Source: The post is based on the article “Indian scientist-led team witnesses star engulfing Jupiter-sized planet” published in Indian Express on 10th May 2023
What is the News?
Scientists have witnessed a bloated star in our own galaxy swallowing a planet. This star has been identified as “ZTF SLRN-2020”.
What is ZTF SLRN-2020?
ZTF SLRN-2020 is a Sun-like star that swallowed a Jupiter-sized planet, causing the star to expel some material into space in an energetic belch.
The star is similar to our sun in size and composition and is located in our Milky Way galaxy about 12,000 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Aquila.
After running out of fuel in its core, the star began to grow in size, shrinking the gap with its neighbouring planet, eventually consuming it entirely.
What is the significance of these findings?
Life cycles of stars have been well studied and understood. Older stars, eventually, ingest the nearby planets (like Mercury and Venus with respect to our Sun), too are scientifically known.
Even Earth could face a similar fate five billion years from today. At the end of its life, the Sun will swell up to a size that will certainly be bigger than the present-day orbit of Earth.
So nominally, the Earth would get engulfed when the Sun runs out of fuel in about 5 billion years.
However, what had never been observed until now was the actual process of a dying star consuming a planet. Now, this has finally happened.