This is What Will Happen When the Sun Eventually Dies

March 4, 2016 | Joanne Kennell

sun/solar system
Photo credit: NASA

Nothing on Earth stands a chance.

It is easy to forget that stars, like our sun, do not live forever.  Since the sun is not immortal, one day it will die, and when it does, trust me when I say you do not want to be around.

The sun was born 4.57 billion years ago, and to burn as bright as it does, it must consume 600 million tonnes of hydrogen, which it converts into helium — a process known as nuclear fusion — every second.  However, since there is only a finite amount of hydrogen within the sun, one day it will run out.

Over the next 4 or so billion years, the sun will continue to consume hydrogen while building up helium. As the helium continues to accumulate, the sun’s core will shrink.  As a result, nuclear fusion reactions will accelerate, and faster fusion reactions means there is more energy being produced.

So, in roughly 3.5 billion years, the sun will actually shine 40 percent brighter than it does today, which will result in the melting of the poles, the boiling of the oceans, and a complete loss of Earth’s atmosphere.  There will likely be no life left on Earth since the planet will become very hot and dry — just like Venus.

SEE ALSO: What Would Happen if Earth Stopped Spinning?

But, it is not over yet!  It gets worse.

About 5.4 billion years from now, the sun will have exhausted all of its hydrogen.  The sun’s core will get really hot and dense, thus shrinking; however, the outer region of the sun will expand and grow.  It could expand as far out as Mercury, Venus, and maybe even Earth — vaporizing all three rocky planets.

Even if the expanding dying sun doesn’t reach Earth, the sun’s high temperatures will completely burn the planet.  

When the sun becomes empty, it will become unstable and begin to pulse.  Each pulse will remove more and more of the sun’s mass until all that is left is the cooler core.  At this point, the sun will be a white dwarf.  It will spend the rest of it’s life like this, slowly cooling and dimming, until nothing is left.

If you haven’t already guessed by this point, Earth, if it is still around, will be a completely inhospitable planet.

Poor Earth, it doesn’t stand a chance.

h/t: Business Insider


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