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NASA’s Unexplained Files examines the planet eating sun

A planet is destroyed by its sun
An artist’s impression of WASP_12b being ‘eaten’ by its nearby star. Credit: NASA/ESA/G. Bacon

Tonight on NASA’s Unexplained Files – scientists get a glimpse of what could be in store for Earth when our sun eventually destroys it.

WASP_12 is a yellow dwarf star around 600 light-years from Earth, in the Auria constellation.

Using the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) on the Hubble Space Telescope scientists have been able to observe the fate of a nearby planet, WASP-12b.

This unfortunate planet has the the dubious honor of being the hottest in our galaxy, at close to 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit.

The huge gravity force on it have also stretched the planet to the shape of a football. This tidal stretching of the planet has heated it up and this has caused the atmosphere to warm up and expand and spill into the star.

Scientists estimate the planet only has around 10 million years left before it is totally destroyed.

The Sun
Our own sun gives us life but one day it will will end life on Earth. Credit: NASA

One day in the far future our sun will begin to run out of hydrogen fuel. It will swell up and become what is know as a red giant.

This new form will dwarf the current dimensions of the sun and mean the inner planets will evenutally be absorbed, even if Earth is not completely consumed it will become scorched and lifeless.

Don’t worry though, it won’t happen for a few billion years.

The show also looks some strange sights seen on Mars and the Moon.

Watch NASA’s Unexplained Files tonight at 9/c PM on Science Channel.

James has worked for Monsters and Critics since it started back in 2003. He oversees the business and technical side of things. You can contact or follow him on Twitter.

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