Ever since a massive meteor wiped out the dinosaurs, extinction-level events have been of particular interest to those who study the stars. Thousands of traditions around the world describe a great flood, spawning legends spanning from the Bible to the lost city of Atlantis. Nowadays, scientists are preoccupied with the knowledge that one day our sun will fizzle out — and thoughts of how to survive the death of a star.
When Do Stars Die?
A star dies when a car dies — when it runs out of fuel. The difference is that it usually takes millions of years for the star. According to ESAKids:
When a star like the Sun has burned all of its hydrogen fuel, it expands to become a red giant. This may be millions of kilometres across — big enough to swallow the planets Mercury and Venus.
That’s right — when a star dies, it takes everything that depends on it with it. For example, if our sun were to die, the event would vaporize the Earth. However, new research shows which kind of stars survive and which don’t.
How To Survive The Death of a Star
According to a report from Science Daily, researchers from the University of Warwick have determined likely factors of rocky bodies surviving the death of a star:
By modelling the effects of a white dwarf’s change in gravity on orbiting rocky bodies, the researchers have determined the most likely factors that will cause a planet to move within the star’s ‘destruction radius’ …
As for Earth, one of the study’s scientists clarified the study’s scope. Unfortunately, Dr. Dimitri Veras, from the University of Warwick’s Department of Physics, says that calculating Earth’s sturdiness in the face of such an event would be a difficult prospect.
But researchers are currently investigating that as well.
Feature image provided via JPL — NASA