Reading Earth’s Destiny in the “Blood Spatter” Around Other Stars – Facts So Romantic

Ever notice how pretty much all superhero movies are origins stories? Everyone wants to know how Batman and Wolverine and the Hulk became who they are. But there aren’t too many superhero-in-old-age stories out there, with balding, hunchbacked super-oldsters hobbling around assisted-living homes.

The same goes for the Solar System. The question of how the Solar System formed has been pondered by scientists for hundreds of years. And it is by no means a solved problem; the study of planet formation remains a thriving subfield within astrophysics. But there are just a handful of researchers studying the future of the Solar System.

The Sun has been around for four and a half billion years. It hasn’t changed all that much in that time. Life on Earth is doing fine. Why should we even be thinking about the distant future? Because when astronomers look closely at stars, they routinely see the deaths of planets! Well, not the moment of death itself. Rather, they detect the “blood spatter” created by the deaths of planetary systems. Astronomers detect this spatter in the spectra of white dwarfs, the skeletons of dead stars.

It turns out that the Sun does change; it just takes its time. The Sun…

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