Red Giant Sun May Not Destroy Earth
The first glimpse of a planet that survived its star's red giant phase is offering a glimmer of hope that Earth might make it past our sun's eventual expansion.
The newfound planet, dubbed V391 Pegasi b, is much larger than Earth but likely orbited its star as closely as our planet orbits the sun. When the aging star mushroomed into a red giant about a hundred times its previous size, V391 Pegasi b was pushed out to an orbit nearly twice as far away.
"After this finding, we now know that planets with an orbital distance similar to the Earth can survive the red giant expansion of their parent stars," said lead author Roberto Silvotti of the National Institute of Astrophysics in Napoli, Italy.
"But this does not automatically mean that even the Earth, much smaller and much more vulnerable [than V391 Pegasi b], will survive" our sun's expansion billions of years from now, he said. Scientists know that there are two main forces that will affect the outcome, but neither is well understood.
But whatever happens to Earth in the future, Silvotti holds no hope that wildlife will be around to witness the sun's changes.
Source: National Geographic
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