There are many ways Earth could come to an end . For example, we could crash into another planet, be swallowed by a black hole, or be killed by asteroids. However, we can not say when or if one of these scenarios will actually happen.
But one thing is certain: even if Earth can escape dangerous aliens, deadly giant comets, and the nuclear apocalypse, one day our own sun will destroy them. And this day could come sooner than we believe. At least that’s what Jillian Scudder, Astrophysicist at Sussex University, told us.
The earth is dried up
The sun survives by burning hydrogen atoms in its nucleus into helium atoms. In fact, it even burns 600 million tons of hydrogen per second.
And as the nucleus becomes saturated with helium, it shrinks, which accelerates the reaction time of the nuclear fusions – that is, the sun spits more energy. For every billion years in which the sun burns hydrogen, it gets ten percent brighter.
And although ten percent in a billion years may not seem like much, it could have catastrophic consequences for our planet.
“Forecasts about what exactly will happen to the Earth as the sun gets brighter within the next billion years are uncertain,” says Scudder. “But the general view is that the increasing heat of the sun lets more water evaporate from the earth’s surface and holds it in the atmosphere. The water behaves like a greenhouse gas that captures more incoming heat, which in turn accelerates evaporation. ”
Before the sun ever runs out of hydrogen, the high-energy sunlight will bombard our atmosphere and “split the molecules, allowing the water to escape as hydrogen and oxygen, which will eventually dry up the earth,” says Scudder .
Kevin GillBut that’s not the end of the song. A ten percent increase in brightness per billion years means that in 3.5 billion years, the sun will be about 40 percent brighter. This will bring the oceans of the earth to a boil, melt the ice caps, and draw all the moisture out of the earth’s atmosphere.
Our planet, which once sprang from life, will become unbearably hot, dry and barren – like Venus.
Kevin GillAs time progresses, the future will look very bleak for us.
The last breaths of the sun
Everything has an end and one day, in about four or five billion years, the sun will have burned the last bit of hydrogen and burn helium instead.
“Once hydrogen stops burning in the core of the sun, it officially leaves its place in the main series of stars and can be described as a red giant ,” says Scudder. “Then she will spend about a billion years burning and expanding helium at its core. The shell around the nucleus will still be able to fuse hydrogen into helium. “
ESO / L. CalçadaThe sun will lose its outer layers, decrease in mass and its attraction to the planets weakens. As a result, all orbits of the orbit of the sun drift a little further away.
When the sun becomes a fully trained Red Giant, the core becomes so extremely hot and dense that the outer shell expands … expands very far.
Its atmosphere will expand to the current orbit of Mars – Mercury and Venus are simply swallowed.
Although the Sun’s atmosphere will reach Mars’s orbit, Mars escapes because it has moved out of range of the Sun.
There are two possibilities for the earth: it could either escape the expanding sun or be consumed by it. But even if our planet can escape the sun, the high temperatures will burn it to a dry, dead heap of ashes.
“In any case, the planet will be very close to the red giant’s surface, not a good condition for life,” says Scudder.
Kevin GillFrom the red giant to the white dwarf
Once the sun has used up its reserves, it becomes unstable and begins to pulsate.
With each pulse, the sun will shed layers of its outer atmosphere until all that’s left is a hot, heavy core, surrounded by planetary nebulae .
X-ray: NASA / CXC / RIT / J. Kastner et al .; Optical: NASA / STScIWith each passing day, this core, also called White Dwarf , will cool down and slowly disappear.
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But do not worry. There are plenty of other things that are likely to kill us first.
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