Editor's note: Who cares what happens after the sun dies?
The solar system could be struck by disaster when the Sun dies if the mysterious "Planet Nine" exists, report researchers from the University of Warwick.
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The presence of "Planet Nine" - the hypothetical planet which may exist in the outer solar system - could cause the elimination of at least one of the giant planets after the Sun dies, hurling them out into interstellar space through a sort of "pinball" effect, explained Dr Dimitri Veras from the department of physics.
When the sun starts to die in around seven billion years, it will blow away half of its own mass and inflate itself -- swallowing the Earth -- before fading into an ember known as a white dwarf.
This mass ejection will push Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune out to what was assumed a safe distance.
However, Dr Veras discovered that the existence of "Planet Nine" could rewrite this ending.
He found that Planet Nine might not be pushed out in the same way and, in fact, might instead be thrust inward into a death dance with the solar system's four known giant planets -- most notably Uranus and Neptune.
The most likely result is ejection from the solar system, forever.
"The existence of a distant massive planet could fundamentally change the fate of the solar system. Uranus and Neptune in particular may no longer be safe from the death throes of the Sun," Dr Veras added.
Using a unique code that can simulate the death of planetary systems, Dr Veras has mapped numerous different positions where a 'Planet Nine' could change the fate of the solar system.
The further away and the more massive the planet is, the higher the chance that the solar system will experience a violent future.
This discovery could shed light on planetary architectures in different solar systems.
The paper is forthcoming in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.