The most important star in the universe is our sun. Being almost a million miles across it has the mass of about 330,000 times that of earth and at the ripe age of only 4.6 billion years, it is a middle age star.
The sun is fueled by the sun is powered by nuclear fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium. This process requires temperatures of at least 180 million degrees F, but can keep our star shining for perhaps ten billion years.
It takes light from the sun about 8 minuets 20 seconds to reach our planet and provides us the essential energy to support life on earth. However, as the sun ages it will burn more and more of its hydrogen and its core will shrink causing increasing the fusion rate causing it to be 40% brighter than it is now in 4.5 billion years. This sequence will wreck havoc to the inner planets, Mercury and Venus and the earth’s seas will boil away, with no chance of life surviving.
The sun will continue to exhaust its supply of hydrogen and swell to the size of a red Giant star as the core collapses under its own gravitational weight. At this time the planets Mercury and Venus will become completely destroyed by the sun as it grows consuming them as it expands and the earth will become a lifeless “scorched rock”. From here it may be possible that the sun’s own expansion may even engulf the earth by pulling it inward by gravitational forces.
The future of our planet is clearly and utterly doomed.
Can we survive?
Scientific models suggest that the earth will not fare well in this catastrophic disaster. Some Astronomers predict as the sun burns more and more of its mass the earth could move outwards away from the sun due to the reduction in its gravitational pull. However, this is unlikely to happen; the sun’s expansion at our current distance means we are just too close to be safe. The sun’s expansion will engulf Mercury, Venus and earth.
Sadly the only way for mankind to survive would be to command space ships to planets in our solar system considered to be within the new habitable zone or journey into interstellar space.
If life could survive in our solar system when the sun becomes a red giant it would only be at extreme distances. This begins in the Kuiper belt, the far reaches of our solar system – where now it is far too cold to support life as we know it.
That may leave traveling to the nearest stars as our last option. A trip to a new star, would be an interesting journey. We are not yet in a stage of intellect nor technology to accomplish such a daring feat today.
Perhaps everything does happen for a reason. In a billion years or so from now our technological achievements will be put to the ultimate test – to survive by leaving our planet and find a new home in the stars.
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