Institute of Astronomy

Planet-eating white dwarfs

SpeakerTalk DateWeekly Handout
Amy Bonsor19 October 2016
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Talk Summary

In 5 billion years time our Sun will swell to become a giant star, before losing most of its mass and ending its life as a faint, compact remnant, known as a white dwarf. What happens to our Solar System? What happens to the growing number of exo-planetary systems that we observe orbiting stars other than our Sun. Come along to find out how rocky planetary material ends up in the atmospheres of white dwarfs. 

In the artist's impression shown below, the host star is running out of hydrogen in the core. It is also losing mass, which causes the planets to move further out. The perturbation of the orbits may lead to collisions that will generate large amounts of rocky debris.

Credit: © Mark A. Garlick /space-art.co.uk/University of Warwick

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