Exoplanet of Extragalactic Origin Could Foretell Our Solar System’s Future

An exoplanet from another galaxy (right) and its star (left): Artist’s impression of the yellowish star HIP 13044 and, on the bottom right, its planet HIP 13044 b. HIP 13044 is part of a stellar stream, a remnant of a dwarf galaxy that was swallowed by the Milky Way galaxy billions of years ago. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

While astronomers have detected over 500 extrasolar planets during the past 15 years, this latest one might have the most storied and unusual past. But its future is also of great interest, as it could mirror the way our own solar system might meet its demise. This Jupiter-like planet, called HIP 13044 b, is orbiting a star that used to be in another galaxy but that galaxy was swallowed by the Milky Way. While astronomers have never directly detected an exoplanet in another galaxy, this offers evidence that other galaxies host stars with planets, too. The star is nearing the end of its life and as it expands, could engulf the planet, just as our Sun will likely snuff out our own world. And somehow, this exoplanet has survived the first death throes of the star.

“The star is in the horizontal branch stage and it still has a planet, which is a glimmer of hope for those of us who worry about how our Solar System will look in 5 billion years,” said Markus Poessel, from the Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie (MPIA) press office.

(…) Read the rest of Exoplanet of Extragalactic Origin Could Foretell Our Solar System’s Future (678 words)

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