According to astronomers, the death of a star will start a ‘game of pinball’ for planets in the system.
According to a new study, four planets locked in a rhythm around a neighboring star would be sent pinballing around their solar system when their sun dies.
The change in gravitational forces in the system as a result of the star becoming a white dwarf caused the planets to fly loose from their orbits and bounce off each other’s gravity, according to astronomers.
In a pinball game, this is analogous to balls bouncing off a bumper.
The planets will knock neighboring junk into their dying sun throughout this process, giving scientists new insight into how white dwarfs with contaminated atmospheres arose in the first place.
A 30-40 million-year-old A type star and four very massive planets make up the HR 8799 system, which is 135 light years away.
The planets orbit each other at a distance of less than five times Jupiter’s mass.
There are two debris discs in the system, one inside the orbit of the innermost planet and the other outside the orbit of the outermost.
As soon as the star loses mass, their positions will diverge, and two of them will scatter, initiating a chain reaction among all four stars.
The four planets, according to scientists, are locked in a precise rhythm in which each one completes twice the orbit of its neighbor.
The nearest planet completes two orbits for every orbit completed by the furthest planet, the next closest planet completes four orbits, and the closest planet completes eight orbits.
The researchers from Warwick and Exeter universities looked into what would lead the perfect rhythm to destabilize in the future.
Despite the impacts of Galactic tides and close flybys of other stars, the researchers estimated that the resonance that locks the four planets will likely remain in place for the next three billion years.
When the star enters the phase where it becomes a red giant, however, it always breaks.
It will expand to several hundred times its current size and discharge nearly half of its mass, eventually becoming a white dwarf.
The planets will then begin to pinball and. (This is a brief piece.)