What will happen when the Sun becomes a White Dwarf?

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Michael asked the Naked Scientists:

I was wondering what will happen to the planets in our Solar System after our Sun shrinks into a White Dwarf, excluding Mercury, Venus, and Earth?

What do you think?


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What will happen when the Sun becomes a White Dwarf?
« Reply #1 on: 14/01/2009 23:16:27 »
Mercury Venus and possibly the earth as you suggest will be consumed in the sun a the red giant phase.  The sun will loose a significant amount of mass during the asymptotic giant and planetary nebula phase following the end of the red giant phase causing orbits to increase in size but this will not disturb the outer planets too much there could also be some loss of energy due to the atmospheric resistance during the asymptotic giant/planetary nebula phase this could make orbits smaller.

The change in orbit sizes could also cause some instability but the relative orbit periods will eventually settle down.  So on the whole there should not be a vast change in the outer solar system
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