Three Planets Found Close to Red Supergiant Stars

Mar 7, 2021 | Daily Space, Exoplanets, Stars

IMAGE: Prof. Niedzielski’s team have been working on this subject for years. Thanks to precise observations of the sky, they have managed to discover 26 stars around which planets revolve. CREDIT: Andrzej Romański

One of the ways we try and understand our solar system’s future is by looking for similar stars that are a bit older. This is like trying to understand how a person may age by looking at their grandparents; things may not be identical, but they will likely be pretty similar. In a new paper in Astronomy and Astrophysics, researchers led by Andrzej Niedzielski examined 122 stars and found planets in 26 systems. Three of these were red giant stars with the same mass as our sun but are older and have expanded out into red giant stars. 

This discovery of planets around bloated stars answers the question: will the Sun consume all the planets? We knew from theories that it wouldn’t, but now we see that in fact as well, it really won’t. In one of these systems, with the license plate TYC 0434-04538-1, a planet was even found in a position akin to being between the orbits of Venus and Earth in our solar system. Given the size of the star, Mercury would have been goners, but hey, it’s nice to know we have a chance of living.

The discovered planets weren’t earthlike in any way. Observed worlds were massive gas giants, all larger (or much much larger) than Jupiter. This isn’t to say smaller worlds aren’t out there; they just are beyond the abilities of what this team could see. Here is to hoping that as our observing skills get better, we’ll be able to observationally prove that yes, Earth can potentially survive the expansion of the Sun, even if it does get a bit crispy around the edges.

More Information

Nicolaus Copernicus University press release

Tracking Advanced Planetary Systems (TAPAS) with HARPS-N VII. Elder suns with low-mass companions,” Andrzej T. Niedzielski et al., to be published in Astronomy & Astrophysics (preprint on


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