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Exoplanets Spotted Orbiting Dead Star

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the zombie-planet dept.

Space 76

astroengine writes "Scientists have found a system of planets that appears to have survived being engulfed by their dying parent star. The discovery raises questions about the ultimate fate of our solar system when the sun runs out of hydrogen gas in about 5 billion years and violently transform into an expanding red giant star. Scientists believe all the planets from Earth inward will be destroyed when the sun expands, but new research suggests that if planets are large enough, they may outlast their parent star's death, even if they are engulfed."

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76 comments

In Soviet Russia (-1, Offtopic)

Roachie (2180772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453682)

Dead star orbit YOU!

5 billion years from now (-1, Troll)

Cigarra (652458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453732)

Who the *beep* cares? Seriously....

Oh come On. (3)

drainbramage (588291) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453750)

5 billion years from now that could be us!

Don't you want to know how it will end?

Re:Oh come On. (5, Interesting)

niktemadur (793971) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456940)

Five billion years from now... oh fuck it, I need a drink.

Sobering up now, this "dead star" is really a white dwarf, isn't it?
Time scales become truly mind-boggling when, after eons as a white dwarf, the nuclear reaction peters out, the "ember" still emitting heat for eons upon eons.

If the proton decays, when the last white dwarf goes out, around 10^14 years from now, the Universe passes from the Stelliferous Era to the Degenerate Era, everything slowly cooling down, matter slowly disintegrating or being sucked into black holes, beyond the point when all free-floating matter has reached 1-to-1 odds of evaporating, roughly 10^40 years from now.

If the proton decays, then the Universe enters the Black Hole Era, when there is no more matter to be sucked into singularities, so that they now begin the excruciatingly slow process of evaporating via Hawking Radiation. The last of the supermassive black holes will have evaporated by 10^100 from now. Then we enter a period of virtual infinity, named the Dark Era, the Universe inconceivably vast and empty and still accelerating.

However, if the proton does NOT decay, circumstances and numbers become even more surreal/nasty, all stars NOT sucked into black holes reach 1-to-1 odds of becoming iron spheres at around 10^1500 years from now. That's right, all baryonic matter in the Universe will have frozen into an iron state. Finally, the last iron star will collapse into a neutron star or black hole at 10^10^76 (ten to the ten to the seventy six).

And that's how thing will end and remain ended.

Re:Oh come On. (5, Funny)

FuturePerson (2471030) | more than 2 years ago | (#38458042)

And that's how thing[s] will end and remain ended.

That's not true, actually. You see, beyond the accelerating universe, by the time of the end of which you speak, we will have built ... "God", for lack of a better word. By that time, we have looked at each particle and each vibration of each string and determined where it came from and where it is going (yes, there's no random), allowing us to calculate everything back to before the big bang.

Everything will be known - every path of every falling leaf anywhere in the universe, ever. Every action, every thought and every feeling of every creature that ever lived will be known, in effect raising everyone from the dead in a big collective consciousness beyond this universe and all the matter and energy in it. Thankfully there must have been a universe about around here before, because out there on the outside, was matter we could build our collective of. We need all the matter in this universe. We need to start it again, in the exact same way it once started. Everything in this universe will all happen exactly as it happened and is happening and will happen once more.

Why we need to do that? I'll get into that later, unless I've all ready mentioned it before. But now I have to go. These are very hectic days for this weary "time-traveler". My adventures on this earth at this point in history are not that important. They are dwarfed by the cosmic storyline, but they might be an amusing read if I get time to write about them.

Do good. You will reap the benefits later.

Sincerelly,
Future Person

Re:Oh come On. (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 2 years ago | (#38459390)

And that's how thing[s] will end and remain ended.

That's not true, actually. You see, beyond the accelerating universe, by the time of the end of which you speak, we will have built ... "God", for lack of a better word. B...

The last question [multivax.com]

Re:Oh come On. (1)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 2 years ago | (#38462116)

Errr.. I'll have what he is having. No, don't put it in a bag. I'll just smoke it here.

Re:Oh come On. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38470060)

you don't have enough everything to track and simulate everything.

Re:5 billion years from now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453816)

If reincarnation turns out to be real, you will...

So what they found out? (1)

impaledsunset (1337701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453860)

Did they find planets orbiting a white dwarf at orbits that would have been inside the red giant, did they find planets orbiting a red giant or did they find planets orbiting inside the red giant? Is the star dead or dying? TFA doesn't seem to say anything about the former, and conflicts with TFS about the latter.

Re:So what they found out? (3, Informative)

berzerke (319205) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454516)

...Is the star dead or dying?

I read it as the star was dying and it engulfed the planets. Now the star is dead and shrunk back down, and they found some planets are still there.

Re:5 billion years from now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453866)

You're on the wrong site.

Re:5 billion years from now (4, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454144)

Who the *beep* cares? Seriously....

Because probability dictates a good chance of a Futurama-like world will exist sometime during that span. If you want to be a part get started on your own stasis chamber, now. Don't forget to take a pizza with you, so you'll have something to eat when you emerge.

In the meanwhile, I'm more worried about the survivors of those dead worlds, who are on their way here.

Re:5 billion years from now (5, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454238)

I can't wait for them to get here. I bet they're tasty.

Re:5 billion years from now (1)

mrops (927562) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454630)

Ummmm.... Well done. Just like I do my stake.

Re:5 billion years from now (1)

cstacy (534252) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457538)

I can't wait for them to get here. I bet they're tasty.

You did notice that McDonalds latest item is McPopplers, right?

Re:5 billion years from now (5, Funny)

thej1nx (763573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454410)

>>In the meanwhile, I'm more worried about the survivors of those dead worlds, who are on their way here.

That is perfectly okay. They will land a job in a newspaper somewhere...and wear their underwear outside their pants!

Re:5 billion years from now (2)

DiogoBiazus (1216102) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455374)

That is perfectly okay. They will land a job in a newspaper somewhere...and wear their underwear outside their pants!

As a former resident of an exoplanet I must protest. This is an stereotype created by pop culture, not all aliens wear their underwear outside their pants, you insensitive clod!

Re:5 billion years from now (1)

xhawkx (977284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38458698)

You are much too funny...................I betcha when searching for exo's, popping into veiw will be an un-organic vehical with a smiley face flag and the "Flintstones" theme song being broadcast.

Re:5 billion years from now (-1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454146)

Apparently you do, putz, because you opened the fucking article.

Jesus Christ, but the lengths some people go to to show off their enlightened indifference.

Re:5 billion years from now (1)

hrimhari (1241292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454988)

In my case, I was wondering if somebody would mention if the lack of a "permanent" energy source like the Sun would spell the death of our planet anyway, if the dying, expanding Sun didn't get rid of it first after all.

Re:5 billion years from now (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454214)

I do.

Define "Survive" in this context (5, Insightful)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453810)

So...your grave still exists on whats left of a scorched rock vs being completely destroyed leaving nothing but particles in space? Sounds WAY better!

Re:Define "Survive" in this context (5, Funny)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453870)

if you are an interstellar archaeologist, it definitely is better!

Re:Define "Survive" in this context (5, Insightful)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453964)

TFA mentioned the planets had lost significant portions of their mass to the intense heat. I doubt there would be anything left for an archaeologist to look at.

Re:Define "Survive" in this context (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454056)

So will my grave still exist on whats left on a scorched rock -- or not? You seem to want to have it both ways. Seems like you switched specifically to disagree with me. I used this to illustrate to "having it both ways" to my wife, who uses this tactic all too often ;)

Re:Define "Survive" in this context (3, Insightful)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454336)

I would say your grave doesn't still exist on the remaining scorched rock, which I assume is the core of the planet. Your grave would have evaporated along with the outer layers of the former surface.

Unless you have a really deep grave, anyway. :)

Re:Define "Survive" in this context (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454378)

I'm curious as to how much of the planets survive and how. It's not like the sun grows to that size for a short period of time, if it was hot enough to evaporate the surface surely it should be hot enough to evaporate all of the planet.

Also if the planet loses mass wouldn't it move?

Re:Define "Survive" in this context (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455890)

The expansion phase is extremely short on those time scales. A star will typically remain a red giant for a few million years [berkeley.edu] . Its surface temperature at that time will be only around 5000K, which is hot enough to evaporate the planet eventually, but not by orders of magnitude. The red giant has low density, so the heat exchange takes longer.
All in all, it's not inconceivable that a planet's core might remain intact if it's on the very edge of expansion.

Re:Define "Survive" in this context (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456310)

if it was hot enough to evaporate the surface surely it should be hot enough to evaporate all of the planet.

Rather like saying if a stove is hot enough to evaporate some of a pot of water it will evaporate all of it. Clearly not true.

Also if the planet loses mass wouldn't it move?

No. However as the star loses mass, it's gravity decreases and THAT causes the planet to spiral outward a bit. That's expected to happen to earth, too, however not far enough that we'll escape crisping.

Re:Define "Survive" in this context (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455760)

I would say your grave doesn't still exist on the remaining scorched rock, which I assume is the core of the planet. Your grave would have evaporated along with the outer layers of the former surface.

Unless you have a really deep grave, anyway. :)

Unless the planets originally orbited at a much greater distance, and then as the star became smaller, they performed an orbital transfer. Although why one would have themselves buried on a Pluto-type world...

Re:Define "Survive" in this context (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454290)

I didn't know archaeologists bothered looking in layers of molten rock.

Re:Define "Survive" in this context (1)

twotacocombo (1529393) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453890)

Sure, but who will come by to pick up the dead flowers and kick those pesky kids off the grounds after dark?

Re:Define "Survive" in this context (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453956)

This is great news in case it takes billions of years for the zombie apocalypse to finally happen. I don't want to miss out on the fun!

Re:Define "Survive" in this context (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38469488)

So...your grave still exists on whats left of a scorched rock

Dig Up Yourself From Your GRAAAAAVE!!

-- Children of Bodom, "Living Dead Beat"

See Star Trek TNG episode... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453872)

... for what's going to happen to us. [wikipedia.org]

We're going to die off and be forgotten because humankind has turned away from space exploration and instead has focused on socialism. Stealing from the productive to give to the lazy is now our final fate.

Re:See Star Trek TNG episode... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453936)

The only time humanity managed to leave LEO was funded by "stealing from the productive".

Re:See Star Trek TNG episode... (0)

Cigarra (652458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454066)

There are some 5 BILLION YEARS down the road to "turn into" space exploration. Surely dedicating some hundreds of years somewhere in the future will take care of it, if it's feasible at all.

What's wrong with focusing on fixing this planet first?

Re:See Star Trek TNG episode... (4, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454152)

What's wrong with focusing on fixing this planet first?

Nothing, except many of its inhabitants are short-sighted, selfish, petty, nimrods, who only care about themselves and what effects them directly, and they are, to a great extent, the ones in charge/power making decisions that affect the rest.

Re:See Star Trek TNG episode... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454186)

When most people talk about space exploration they think of NASA, rockets, and astronauts. But I imagine recycling, renewable energy, and pollution control instead. Assuming we don't come up with fast than light travel, it'll take millions of years to reach the next Earth. We'll probably be flying in huge city ships where sustainable living is critical to the success of the mission. If we can't even live sustainably on a planet for a million years, how can we hope to survive on a tiny ship for a million years?

So... you do agree... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454574)

...that we're doomed when the Sun starts burning out. There's a certain group of astronomers over in England who've been studying the Sun for the better part of a quarter of a century who've come to the conclusion that even though they know the Sun will not be going red giant and swallowing up the Earth for a very long time (some models are as short as 600,000 years, others up to 4 billion years), one mathematical model of theirs shows that just the simple increased solar output will cause a planet-wide drought that will render the Earth practically uninhabitable by life as we know it in as little as 1800-2200 more years from today. And that model has shown to be dead nuts accurate with the solar output increases recorded on Mars for as long as we've been able to measure the temperatures on Mars. Pretty scary stuff. If we've really only got in the neighborhood of two millenia to get our act together and build some deep-space-faring city-ships, then that ist really very little time left to accomplish that.

Re:So... you do agree... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454744)

I think we're on the same page. We just have different priorities. At least two things are needed to prevent human extinction:

1. Huge-ass city-ships
2. Sustainable living

The thing is, #1 depends on #2 because there's no way we can build something that scale without stopping the burning of fossil fuels first. Both items need to advance in parallel, but #2 takes priorities in the short term.

Re:So... you do agree... (2)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455134)

I'm sorry, but giving something like only 2000 years as a timescale for the Earth becoming "uninhabitable by life as we know it" due just to increases in solar output is just wildly inaccurate. The Sun is not changing that fast.

I'd say 100 million years is about a short as you can credibly go, and obviously life will evolve during that time. The real killer would be the point at which liquid water can no longer exist on the surface, and that's more like a billion years in the future.

Re:So... you do agree... (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457676)

There is another reason [ucsd.edu] why earth may become unhabitable due to heat within this timeframe.

Re:See Star Trek TNG episode... (1)

SpanglerIsAGod (2052716) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454536)

Which is interesting since Start Trek is the epitome of socialism.

Re:See Star Trek TNG episode... (1)

RancidPeanutOil (607744) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456842)

Yes, that is correct. It was either one, or the other, - space exploration or socialism - and we have made our choice. Thanks a bunch, Obama! Now our children will be engulfed in plasma...

Re:See Star Trek TNG episode... (1)

jeff4747 (256583) | more than 2 years ago | (#38464086)

You do realize that humans in the Star Trek universe live in a 100% socialist society, right?

Only 6 billion years left? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453876)

But... I was hoping humanity would still be around to see the copyrights to "Steamboat Willy" expire!

Re:Only 6 billion years left? (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455704)

I'm afraid you will have to wait for the heat death of the Universe. Perhaps when protons start decaying...

*dons his asbestos suit* (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453932)

It's sure been a long time since I've used/seen $TITLE in online conversation.

Sun (3, Funny)

Mister Liberty (769145) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453940)

I'd love to Sun expand again, and devour Oracle.

Re:Sun (3, Funny)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454002)

Unfortunately, Larry Ellison's planet sized ego would survive, much like these burnt out planets the article mentions.

Only the burnt out planets didn't have golden parachutes.

Larry Ellison does.

Re:Sun (2)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454842)

Which we know he will use as a solar sail to outrun the expanding sun. The sheer massiveness of his ego will contain enough atmosphere for the journey to the next planet that he can host Oracle on.
-nB

CCDs! (4, Funny)

instagib (879544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454048)

First a story about a comet flying through the sun unharmed. Now a story about planets surviving an expanding sun. Clearly a new PR strategy of the Climate Change Deniers (tm) !

Re:CCDs! (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454134)

Not good enough though.

NSIDC predicts that by 2025 arctic tundra will turn from carbon sink to carbon emmision source.

Yay for violent methane release! Better fill up that hummer! You're gonna need the gas considering how hard your AC is gonna be working.

Re:CCDs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454444)

What?!? It's clearly a story by the Manbearpig worshipers about how humans are causing solar expansion!

(captcha = "demented")

Re:CCDs! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454622)

That meme was funny to 10 year olds about a decade ago. Let it die.

The people who thought it was funny actually voted in the last election. MY. FUCKING. GOD.

Re:CCDs! (0)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454706)

butthurt.

Re:CCDs! (1)

ThePeices (635180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455552)

Yes? You called?

Re:CCDs! (1)

RancidPeanutOil (607744) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456848)

And it will swing back around to hilarious again in 3... 2... 1...

Re:CCDs! (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455076)

Makes as much sense as their current gob-smackingly moronic theories...

relevant paper on these planets here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454594)

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v480/n7378/full/nature10631.html

Does this system have a name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454866)

Can we please call it the Cajun system?

So we must embed a message in the Earth's core. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455282)

Then, in many trillion years an intelligence might stumble across that message embedded in the rock that was the Earth. Then they, using some multiverse extra-physics principles of which we're unaware of, they can travel back in time to now. Once here they can establish a connection to our Internet at a local Starbucks, peruse this thread and forever know that the bird is the word.

It comes down to one thing (1)

jslarve (1193417) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455440)

Climate change is b**ch!

Another possibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455914)

It's also possible that between the expanding star and loss of inner planets, the other planetary orbits were disrupted, one or more planets were ejected from the system and formerly outer planets migrated inward.

Of more interest on that site (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38456186)

is one of the other articles on the bottom

Seven popular websites that are dying
http://news.discovery.com/tech/seven-popular-website-dying-110825.html

#8: Slashdot

Dead Star? (1)

Shadyman (939863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456250)

That's no moon!

Just 5 billion years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38456442)

Awww, jeez. The Cubs will never win the series now.

Sure... what's next??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38457168)

Exoplanets with stripes???

It does not matter in the long run (2)

aepervius (535155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457388)

In 800 million year to 1 billion year the sun luminosity will have increased so much as to make existence of life and even water in liquid form a rarity on earth, baring complete extinction.

As for those purporting we should think about earth extinguishing and prepare the way for a futurama like civilisation :
1) we aren't able to even get agreement on something as simple as CO2 and GCC which is a threat *now*
2) we are still eating oil like tehre is no tomorow. And the way I see it : there won't be, because if we don't find an alternative source like fusion, our age of tech will *end* and there won't be another one *ever* (too much research depend on plentyful energy , so to regain back what we had, would be next to impossible)

Re:It does not matter in the long run (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38457652)

2 is probably wrong... a couple million years after we stop being able to burn it up a different species will get a whack at technology and with any luck enough record of us will survive that our society can serve as a cautionary tale.

Re:It does not matter in the long run (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38518836)

Perhaps if we could dump the anti nuclear nuts, and start building new plants, fossil fuels would be less of an issue?

5 billion years starting when?! (1)

cod3r_ (2031620) | more than 2 years ago | (#38458976)

i'm scurrd.

Many Bothans Died to Bring Us this Information (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38459328)

Exoplanets Spotted Orbiting Dead Star

Wait till Emperor Palpatine finds out. Grand Moff Tarkin is gonna blow them the fuck off the spatial plane for orbiting too close to their security perimeter.

I've always wondered ... (1)

Bobtree (105901) | more than 2 years ago | (#38460358)

Will the surface of the Earth be completely replaced, and if so how many times, before the Sun explodes?

Estimates for the Sun's lifetime are very common, but I've never seen lifetime numbers for the Earth's surface based on plate tectonics, mid-ocean rift spreading, and other crust replacement factors.

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