Saturday, 27 November, 2021
E-paper

NEWS board

Planet that survived star’s death

When our sun enters its death throes in about 5 billion years, it will incinerate our planet and then dramatically collapse into a dead ember known as a white dwarf. But the fate of more distant planets, such as Jupiter or Saturn, is less clear.

On Wednesday in the journal Nature, astronomers reported observing a tantalising preview of our solar system’s afterlife: a Jupiter-size planet orbiting a white dwarf some 6,500 light years from here.

Known as MOA-2010-BLG-477Lb, the planet occupies a comparable orbit to Jupiter. The discovery not only offers a glimpse into our cosmic future, it raises the possibility that any life on ‘survivor’ worlds may endure deaths of stars.

The planet was first spotted because of light-warping effects of its gravitational field, a phenomenon known as microlensing.