Researchers Observe Planet Swallowed by Star, Offer Terrifying Sneak Preview of Earth’s FateWe all have plenty of things to worry about and be frightened by in the course of a given day. Paying the bills, getting to work on time, making sure we don't step in front of a bus while texting. Apparently, though, researchers at Penn State University think we could all use one more thing to have anxiety over: The Earth will eventually be swallowed by our own slowly dying sun, just as the red giant star BD+48 740 did to one of its planets. It's the first time that astronomers have been able to observe, in some way, the consumption of a planet by its aging star. Sure, that fate is probably 5 billion years in the future for the Earth, when we'll all be long in the ground, but knowing it certainly doesn't make us sleep any more soundly right now.Read on...
Dying Star Leaves Amazing Three-Trillion Kilometer Spiral in Its Wake
A red giant named AFGL 3068 is dying, but it's leaving a neat space corpse in the form of a three trillion kilometer long spiral pattern of the red giant's outer layers.When a sun dies, it becomes a red giant. A red giant usually blows its outer layers into space, which get caught by solar winds and encapsulate the star, turning its escaping outer layers into something of a cocoon. The cocoon normally looks like a cloudy orb surrounding the red giant, except in AFGL 3068's case, because its system is made up of two stars orbiting their common center of mass, otherwise known as a binary star. Due to the different orbital patterns a binary star takes, the outer layers that get caught in the solar winds don't wrap the red giant in a cocoon, but get molded by the partner star into the spiral pattern seen in the above picture.Read on...