Beauty in destruction

Stars are essentially giant fireballs, and from their initial ignition to their eventual flickering and disappearance, they fight strong, that is until they get truly elderly and all sorts of stuff hits the fan for anything around that star, as to be discussed now. As written by Nola Taylor Redd of Astronomy magazine in their article “How exoplanets can violently die”, the evolution of a star tends not to always end in a pretty explosion nor a deadly black hole, but rather demolition for the planets that orbit it. The article goes specifically to cover KELT-16b, a Jupiter-sized planet that orbits its sun in less than 24 hours, but what makes this random planet useful is that  its system, KELT-16, can be very precisely measured for when the star will act up next. As written directly in the article, stars such as the sun in KELT-16 swell up into Red Giants, consuming close-by planets in a fiery vaporization while demolishing orbits of farther ones, before slowly transitioning to white dwarf stars, leaving behind any evidence that planets once ever existed there; much like we had learned about the cycle of stellar evolution through combination of in-class lectures as well as information gathered from chapter 14 in the textbook. What’s truly important here, at least in my own opinion, is the discovery of both astronomers as well as myself of evidence that had been found of evaporated planets in around 30-50% all recorded white dwarf stars, meaning that this systematic destruction is almost a universal fate of all planetary systems.


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