The Life and Death of a Planetary System


Life and Death of a Planetary System 0 to 100,000 years How do you make planets? First, you need a star. A star is born in a cold cloud that collapses into a ball of gas… with a disk around it that looks like a pancake. 100,000 to 1 million years As it eats gas and dust from the disk, the baby star brightens and shoots out jets from its poles. 1 million to 10 million years Baby planets grow from small grains of dust that stick together. They become bigger as they collide with other small objects. Childhood for planets involves a lot of crashing into other things. 10 million
to 1 billion years As teenagers, these planets don’t sit still. They move around and interact
with one another and kick smaller objects toward other planets, into the star, or out
of the system. 1 billion to 10 billion years Middle age for planets is like our solar system today. The planets’ orbits don’t change much anymore. Our solar system is 4.6 billion
years old. 10 billion to 11 billion years Stars like our Sun become red giants when they are old. A red giant’s core gets smaller, but also very hot… making the star puff up
so much that it can eat the closest planets to it. 11 billion to 13 billion years The old red giant eventually burns all of the fuel in its core and blows off its outer gas
layers leaving a dense “white dwarf.” Our Sun will reach this death about 8 billion years from now. Only the most massive stars will instead explode, their violent deaths triggering the births of new stars. Destruction sparks the creation of new worlds. Beginning the cycle again. Learn more about the lives of stars and planets at: exoplanets.nasa.gov/livesofplanets Visualization Credits: “Pillars of Creation” image from NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team Star with jets, asteroid and orbit visualizations by NASA’s Goddard Scientific Visualization Studio Planet with ring formation visualization by ESA/Hubble (M. Kornmesser & L. L. Christensen) Young planet, red giant, and white dwarf visualizations by NASA/JPL-Caltech/D.
Berry NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

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