There's some point in time when the Sun, the star our beloved planet Earth rotates around each and every year, dies. Hopefully it's not for another few billion years, but it's a scientific inevitability. Luckily for those living billions of years down the road — perhaps on some of the largest planets in the solar system — it's not all doom and gloom.
Researchers at Hawaii's WM Keck Observatory have found a Jupiter-like planet that's managed to survive despite the star in its system dying out. While it doesn't mean much for life on Earth to survive, it does go to show planets can remain in the face of obliteration once stars go supernova.
"This evidence confirms that planets orbiting at a large enough distance can continue to exist after their star's death," says Joshua Blackman, an astronomy postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tasmania in Australia. "Given that this system is an analog to our own solar system, it suggests that Jupiter and Saturn might survive the Sun's red giant phase, when it runs out of nuclear fuel and self-destructs."
Blackman's study was published in the latest issue of the journal Nature, and you can read it in full here.
Study co-author David Bennett adds that Earth's future doesn't look so bright since it's much closer to the Sun than this planet and its respective star.
"Earth's future may not be so rosy because it is much closer to the Sun," adds co-author David Bennett, a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "If humankind wanted to move to a moon of Jupiter or Saturn before the Sun fried the Earth during its red supergiant phase, we'd still remain in orbit around the Sun, although we would not be able to rely on heat from the Sun as a white dwarf for very long."
We better hurry up and get to Mars so we can get elsewhere, eh?