Tech UPTechnologyThe solar system will disappear much sooner than we...

The solar system will disappear much sooner than we thought

When will our solar system disappear? Delineating the final destination of our solar system is a matter that astronomers have been investigating for hundreds of years. Studying the probable fate of our solar system is “one of the oldest quests in astrophysics, dating back to Newton himself,” notes a team of scientists in The Astronomical Journal.

The day our Sun dies, the planets of our solar system perish, our star ends up expelling most of its mass and gradually cools down, it seems that it will take place earlier than expected. A new study has reviewed the survival estimates of our solar system and the conclusion is that the planets will escape from the galaxy within “just” 100,000 million years, leaving the Sun alone and dying, behind.

According to the researchers, the greater the number of bodies involved in a dynamic system, all acting on each other, the more complex the system will become and the more difficult it is to predict. What is called the ‘N-body problem’.

In 1999, astronomers predicted that the solar system would slowly crumble over a period of at least a billion trillion, that is, 10 ^ 18, or a trillion years. That’s how long it would take, they calculated, for the orbital resonances of Jupiter and Saturn to ‘uncouple’ Uranus.

We are not isolated

But it is that we must not only take into account for this prediction the dynamics of the objects but also the evolution of the Sun that will transform dramatically as it ages out of the main sequence, increasing to a size that surrounds the orbits of Mercury, Venus and the Earth and losing almost half of its mass over the next 5 billion years. The Sun, turned into a red giant, will swallow these closest worlds.

This loss of mass carried into space by stellar winds will loosen the Sun’s gravitational grip on the remaining planets Mars and the outer gas and ice giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. So, although the outer planets will survive this evolution, they will not escape unscathed : the loss of weight of our Sun, already transformed into a white dwarf, will cause the outer planets to drift further apart, weakening their attachment to our solar system.

In addition, the rest of the stars must be taken into account. As the solar system orbits the galactic center, other stars would eventually get close enough to disturb the orbits of the planets. “By taking into account the loss of stellar mass and the inflation of the orbits of the outer planets, these encounters will be more influential,” the authors wrote. “Given enough time, some of these flybys will get close enough to dissociate, or destabilize, the remaining planets.”

Simulations show that within about 30 billion years, stellar flybys will have disrupted our outer planets so much that the stable configuration becomes chaotic and throws most giant planets out of the solar system.

Following this event, the giant planets will independently roam the galaxy, joining other free-floating planets without host stars.

Of course, these new data are not set in stone, since they depend on current observations of the local galactic environment and estimates of stellar flybys, something that logically can change. Be that as it may, there are still many billions of years to go before it all ends.



Referencia: The Great Inequality and the Dynamical Disintegration of the Outer Solar System Jon K. Zink, Konstantin Batygin, and Fred C. Adams. Published 2020 © 2020. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. The Astronomical Journal, Volume 160, Number 5 doi:10.3847/1538-3881/abb8de

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