“Two exoplanets proven hard to kill!”
A headline like that promises a thrill.
“The two survived their dying star’s last gasp,”
It says, but this is difficult to grasp.
The parent star turned red, puffed up, and died.
It was assumed the planets would be fried.
Not only did they ride the scorching out,
But played a game of turn and turn about.
For sure the babies lost a hunk of bulk,
But also took a bite of bloated hulk
From the giant, their new-found nemesis.
They say there are few instances of this.
But here’s something that truly gives me pause:
Our own Sun’s contract has an exit clause.
In some five billion Christmases from now
Our Sun will have a red-faced, holy cow.
When starved of hydrogen it will get gross,
And gobble up the planets that are close.
The dear sustaining star that gave us birth
Will swallow Mercury, Venus, and Earth.
It will collapse into a dwarfish thing,
Forgetful of its planetary fling.
Although this fate seems very far away,
The long run’s getting shorter every day.
Should we pray? Of course! It does no harm.
A fervent prayer may prove a lucky charm.
Another strategy that may be sound:
Find a different star to orbit round.
The long and short of this sad tale, however,
Is now, nor then, there’s no such thing as never.
(Copyright 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.)