The sun – we are so used to it that we take it for granted. It has been shining for many thousands of years, it is shining and will continue to shine, isn’t it? But if you think about it and remember how much has happened in the world for as long as the sun has been shining, how much has appeared and disappeared, you realize that the planets and stars are not eternal. Alas, neither the Sun nor our Earth will exist until the end of time. Then questions arise: how long will it shine? What will happen to our planet when the Sun disappears? Now we will tell you.
How old is the Sun?
Let’s start with the age of the celestial luminary. According to scientists’ calculations, the main star of the solar system is now about 4.5 billion years old. This is a young enough age, given the long “life” of some astronomical objects. Now the sun is in a constant form. And in this stable state it will remain for several million or billions more years. But earthlings probably won’t see it begin to age.
How we calculate the age of the Sun
To determine the age of the celestial luminary, a radioactive dating method was chosen. To do this, the age of the parent element and its “daughter” decay products were compared. Comparison of the figures obtained gave a constant value. The found constant was used to determine the age of the studied astronomical object.
Many celestial bodies were formed around the same time, so to determine the age of some astronomical objects, scientists take lunar rock to calculate the percentage of the element and its derivatives. In the case of the Sun, lunar rock was also taken as samples.
How long will the Sun shine and how will it fade away?
The main star will last about 5-10 billion more years. But earthlings will not see the celestial luminary fade away.
The life cycle of stars is as follows: they are born, then they become protostars – this is the initial stage of their evolution and the final stage of formation before the emergence of thermonuclear fusion. At this stage they become full-fledged stars. This is what the Sun is right now. It will be in this phase of development until it becomes a red giant. Let us tell you how this will happen.
Fusion is an intra-stellar chemical reaction between hydrogen and helium. Scientists suggest that in the core of a star, hydrogen, which occupies about 90% of the star’s volume, is transformed into helium and other elements under the influence of several factors. As long as there is hydrogen, the reaction goes on, and the sun continues to shine and warm. If the original element runs out, there is no more fusion. Eventually the shell of the star will gradually cool and expand. At that point, the sun will become a so-called red giant. Such are now, by the way, considered to be Arcturus and Aldebaran.
Then the outer layers of the red giant are shed (this takes several million years), and a planetary nebula is formed around it. The former core of the star becomes a white dwarf, which consists of oxygen and carbon. When the white dwarf finally cools down, it must turn into a black dwarf, but this will take more than a billion years.
This is how the star called the Sun will end its life cycle.
And what will happen to the Earth without the Sun
We have already mentioned twice in the course of this article that the population of planet Earth will not see the solar extinction. And here’s why.
The planet won’t be there before.
Let’s return to the process of hydrogen burning in the core of the host star. As it burns, the fusion rate of the chemical elements increases, which will cause the Sun to begin to shine brighter. In about a billion years, it will be about 10 percent brighter than it is now.
Our planet will absorb even more energy in the process. This will lead to a strong greenhouse effect, so that the Earth will become heated. Such temperatures would not be able to withstand many kinds of life. Then the oceans will start to “boil”, there will be nothing left of the ice “caps”, and all this vaporized steam will escape into space. Our planet will become like Venus – dry and hot.
In addition, scientists predict that as the Sun turns into a red giant, the orbit of the human planet will also change. And as it expands, the Earth will become uninhabitable.
Yes, all this is sad and gives some people a nasty chill on the back. But it’s too early to be sad. This “apocalypse” will take many billions of years. In the meantime, we should rejoice in life and in the fact that we have the Sun, take care of our beloved and not eternal planet.
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