When Our Sun Dies, The Planetary Nebula Will Be Faint

09 May, 2018, 00:31 | Author: Cecelia Webb
  • When Our Sun Dies, The Planetary Nebula Will Be Faint

Using their new model, based off data with updated calculations of the mass of individual stars, the researchers determined that the sun is just barely big enough to act similarly to some of the faraway stars they've observed in their death throes.

Despite the fact that the Earth can survive after the death of the Sun, life on earth will be dead long before then.

When medium-sized stars die, they undergo a flurry of activity, including one phase of extreme loss of mass.

To find out the team developed a new stellar, data-model that predicts the lifecycle of stars.

As a star meets its end, it ejects up to half its mass into space creating an envelope of gas and debris and exposing the star's core.

The sun's lifespan still extends to approximately 10 billion years, but what happens next? That, until now when recent observations indicate that our Sun will turn into a planetary nebula, a huge ring of bright interstellar gas and dust.

But a star has to be above a certain mass to create a visible nebula.

In fact, this new model shows that "the sun is nearly exactly the lowest mass star that still produces a visible, though faint, planetary nebula", notes a news release from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, which led the project.

Effectively, the study suggests that the star will become what's known as a planetary nebula, a mass of gas and dust. "The envelope can be as much as half the star's mass", said Albert Zijlstra from the University of Manchester, a member of the research team.

Astronomers have long known that our star will die when it's internal fuel runs out.

Zijlstra also said that envelope can shine for 10,000 years and be seen from distances measuring tens of millions of years.

"Problem solved, after 25 years!" he added. This way, they discovered all the material our Sun would eject is likely to heat up a lot more quickly. This means that, theoretically at least, by looking at the planetary nebulae in other galaxies, astronomers can calculate how far away they are.

It showed that after ejection of the envelope, dying stars heated up three times faster than was previously thought.

Older scientific models said our star didn't have enough mass to produce a visible nebula, but observational data suggested otherwise.

The model, detailed in the journal Nature Astronomy, was used to predict the brightness (or luminosity) of the ejected envelope, for stars of different masses and ages. This has become a source of conflict for the past for 25 years.

Now the new models have solved this problem by showing that the Sun is about the lower limit of mass for a star that can produce a visible nebula. "This is a nice result...we now have a way to measure the presence of stars of ages a few billion years in distant galaxies".



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