Turning inside out: Born-again star may predict how solar system will end
Scientists have been given a sneak preview of the ultimate fate of the solar system after observations of a dying star revealed that it turns itself ‘inside out’ in a rebirth process before its demise.
The planetary nebula HuBi1 in the constellation Serpens, was analysed by researchers at the Astrophysical Institute of Andalusia in Granada, Spain, who observed its unusual evolutionary path.
The nebula, a huge cloud of hot gas extending for several light-years, stood out from previous examples as it appeared to be inside out.
Researchers noticed that the nebula’s central star simply disappeared, covered with an incomprehensible layer of dust and gas. It then began to cool off from the inside, rather than from the outside.
“It defies the most basic thermodynamics laws in photoionized nebulae and points out to a peculiar stellar evolutionary event,” said Martín A. Guerrero, who led the study.
"In a few thousand years, planetary nebulae disperse into the interstellar medium and their central stars dim. Instead, the central star of HuBi1 recovered through a very late thermal pulse that processed all hydrogen on its surface,” Marcelo M. Miller Bertolami, a researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica de La Plata (Argentina), who contributed to this study said.
The born-again star has a similar mass to the sun leading researchers to suggest the solar system could have a similar fate.
“As the progenitor star of HuBi1 had a mass similar to our Sun, it provides a glimpse of a potential future (and the ultimate fate) for our solar system,” Guerrero concluded.
The study, which scientists say increases the understanding of the evolution of stars in general, has been published in Nature.
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