The James Webb Space Telescope captures exoplanets like the giants of the solar system orbiting white dwarfs – the future form of our Sun

The JWST images revealing the exoplanet candidates. (Mullally et al., arXiv, 2024)

Discoveries that reveal the fate of the solar system Scientists have concluded that a dying star could cause an eruption, ejecting huge chunks into space. This also applies to the sun. In the future, the Sun will become a red giant star, extending all the way to Mars before catastrophically losing its outer shell and collapsing its core into a super-dense white dwarf. But what will happen to Earth and the other planets after the sun dies? Will they travel around the galaxy due to orbital disturbances, or will they end up in the arms of white dwarfs? Dozens Is it possible that these planets will continue to silently orbit an outdated star that slowly cools down over billions of years? This new discovery could help answer these questions and reveal the fate of our solar system.

Using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), astronomers were able to directly image two gas giant exoplanets orbiting white dwarfs. “If confirmed,” writes a team led by astronomer Susan Mullally of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), “these will be the first direct images of planets that are similar in age and distance to the giant planets in our solar system, demonstrating that planets “Giants such as Jupiter are able to survive the evolution of a star.” Exoplanets usually cannot be observed directly. There are now over 5,500 exoplanets confirmed and thousands more candidates discovered, but most of these discoveries have been indirect. Astronomers observe the influence of the planet on the brightness of the star during a transit passage in front of the “gaze of the telescope” and, based on this data, draw conclusions about the properties of the planet. It is very difficult to identify exoplanets directly due to their small size and the huge difference in the magnitude of the light emission of exoplanets and the star. But the James Webb Space Telescope is the most powerful telescope in space observatories, and astronomers use it to study giant exoplanets, 2 and 3, located 34 and 53 light-years from Earth. We were able to discover two white dwarfs, WD 1202-232 and WD 2105-82. orbit the earth. Each. The exact masses of these planets are currently unknown, but images suggest they could be between 1 and 7 times the mass of Jupiter. In the future, more accurate results may be obtained. Even more interesting is the orbital distance between the white dwarf and its planet. The first exoplanet to orbit WD 1202-232 is at a distance of 11.47 AU, slightly more distant than Saturn, which orbits the Sun at a distance of 9.5 AU. The second exoplanet orbiting WD 2105-82 has an orbital distance of 34.62 AU, which is comparable to Neptune’s orbital distance of 30 AU. The discovery could indicate that exoplanets with orbital distances similar to those in our solar system can survive the catastrophic death of a star and remain in orbit. So far, only a few exoplanets have been discovered near white dwarf stars, limiting the information that can help scientists predict the fate of our solar system. It is known that white dwarfs can swallow nearby planets, and this has been confirmed by analysis of their atmospheres. So far, no JWST discoveries have been confirmed. The two objects could be background galaxies, although researchers think this is unlikely. These two candidate planets will be a key part of the story of what happens to planetary systems when stars reach the end of their lives. Scientists plan to conduct further studies to determine the nature of these planets and obtain additional data. “If confirmed, these giant planets would be similar in age, mass, and orbital distance to giant planets and would be the first to be discovered by direct imaging.”