Sun Might Bake the Earth Sooner Than You Think


How do you imagine the end of all things? I mean, the literal end of the world? It might not be the brightest of topics, but
admit it, you’ve thought about it in your spare time. It’s just one of those things that randomly
come to your mind. And I’ve got something here for ya! Scientists have found out that all life on
Earth is going to be wiped out by the Sun. But hold on. What do we know about the Sun? It’s basically a huge generator: it gives
us light, warmth, and even an endless supply of safe energy, which we’re currently mastering. Without the Sun, there wouldn’t be any life
on Earth at all. And with all these perks, it’s not hard
to forget that it’s actually a gigantic ball of fire that could easily burn us all
down in a matter of seconds. For some reason, though, it still hasn’t
done so. Why? You see, as stars go, our Sun is quite young:
it’s only 4.6 billion years old, and it’s now in the phase when it’s most stable. There is an area around it that’s called
a habitable zone: it’s the distance at which the water on the planets around the star can
still be liquid — and with that, life can exist there. Our planet, obviously, is inside this habitable
zone of the Sun, while Venus, for example, is not. The heat of the star is just right for the
seas and oceans to remain in the form of water, not vapor or ice. But like any other star, the Sun is constantly
changing. The energy it gives off results from burning,
and that can’t be safe by any accounts. It’s only warm and cozy from a distance,
but once you get too close, get ready for some roasting. On top of that, the reactions of burning hydrogen
(and that’s exactly what happens with any star) are different from burning, say, wood
or charcoal. A star has an extremely hot core surrounded
by layers upon layers of gas and dust, which burn and do all the shining. But what happens to stuff when it burns? Right you are: it gets destroyed. And so do these layers around the Sun. As they deplete, they expand too, and the
star grows bigger with every passing minute. It does so in a really slow manner, though,
that’s why we can’t see it, but we can definitely feel the consequences of this expansion. The Sun has an incredibly big influence on
everything on Earth, and it isn’t limited to just light and warmth. The energy the Sun gives to our planet heats
the surface and the atmosphere alike, and it drives the weather all across the globe. As weird as it sounds, there would simply
be no rain without the sun. Just think about it: rain comes down from
clouds, which are basically massive bags of water floating high up in the sky. But how does all this water end up there? Well, it evaporates from the surface of the
planet! To do that, it needs to heat up — and that’s
where the sun comes into play. Its warmth makes water vapor rise from seas
and oceans and form clouds in the atmosphere. That’s just how it works, so no sun means
no clouds. But that absolutely isn’t all there is. As the sun heats the surface of Earth, it
starts all sorts of processes on and beneath it. It may sound crazy, but even volcano eruptions
and earthquakes are the result of the sun’s activity — at least in part. On top of that, the sun’s radiation powers
the winds in the atmosphere, the currents in the oceans, and creates a steady temperature
across the planet (depending on the angle of the sun to Earth, of course). Now that you know how enormous the influence
of the sun is, imagine what would happen to our planet if it expanded by several percent. First of all, the borders of the habitable
zone would shift. Even a 5% increase in the size of our star
would make our planet way different from what we have now. Its surface would get much hotter, water would
evaporate in much more copious amounts, and the climate would change drastically. There’s no telling how exactly different
the Earth would look, but it would definitely not be the planet we know. Still, it would at least survive, and we might
still be around to see those changes. What we wouldn’t be able to witness already
is a 10% expansion of the sun. As you might’ve guessed, the habitable zone
would move again, and this time the Earth would be pushed out of it. Or it’s better to say it would get to the
point of no return — too close to the sun. When our star gets 1.1 times bigger, its heat
would become too much for water to stay liquid — that is, the oceans would evaporate, and
the surface would become so hot that no living thing would be able to take it. The air would also become too hot to breathe. Our planet would virtually turn into a scorched
piece of space rock. The good news is that for some time, at this
point, Mars would enter the habitable zone instead, so if humankind eventually finds
a way to colonize the red planet, it will be able to escape the sad fate of its home
world. The rise in temperatures would shift the gears
in Mars’ inner mechanisms, possibly even turning it into Earth-2. It would have a different time pattern, and
it would most certainly need some adjustments for humans to live safely on its surface,
but Mars definitely could become our new home. And hey, having two moons instead of just
one — isn’t it awesome? Yet still it wouldn’t be a permanent solution. Like I said before, the more hydrogen the
Sun burns, the bigger it becomes. After some more time, it would consume Mars
too, and that would probably be the end of its growth. The Sun would finally become a red giant before
shrinking down to a white dwarf. It’s a process that occurs when a star is
running out of fuel: its core gets stripped from the gas and dust that surrounded it previously,
and all this stuff flies free into space. Then, at the end of its life, the core begins
to shine brighter than ever, with the cloud of particles it just released catching fire
too. This last phase is called a planetary nebula,
and it’s so bright that it can be seen from millions of light years away. And when the core stops shining, the Sun will
at last be no more. Okay, that explains how the Sun will wipe
out our entire planet. But what about when it will happen? Well, it seems we don’t have to worry that
much about it yet. You might remember what I said a bit earlier:
our Sun is about 4.6 billion years old now, and from what astronomers can predict, it
will take another 10 billion years to become a planetary nebula. As for the 10% growth, which will bring the
end to all life on Earth, it will take place in about 1 billion years from now. A much shorter time span for sure, but no
less faraway. Given today’s technical progress, I bet
humanity will find a way to colonize other planets way before it’s too late. Do you agree? Let me know down in the comment section below! And still there’s something that bothers
some researchers in the Sun’s behavior right now. There are flashes on its surface that release
powerful radiation into space and towards the Earth. So far, our atmosphere along with greenhouse
gases and rain clouds has protected us all from this radiation. But if, for some reason, our planet is stripped
of these protective layers, gamma rays straight from the Sun will scorch the Earth. I’m not saying greenhouse effect is good,
mind you — I’m just reminding you that everything in the world happens for a reason. If a particularly powerful beam of radiation
reaches the Earth, gases in the atmosphere just might disperse it enough to make it harmless. On the other hand, if the growth of greenhouse
gases produced by humans continues, we might face a global change of climate. This isn’t as dangerous as it might sound,
but it’s still very unpleasant. Although deserts might bloom and the permafrost
of the Arctic and the Antarctic might even turn into lush jungle, for humanity such a
change would mean a complete restructuring of the world. On top of that, climate change won’t come
peacefully: it will trigger lots and lots of natural disasters, such as hurricanes,
volcano eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis. We can already feel these effects, by the
way, because, according to statistics, hurricanes have become more frequent since the beginning
of the 20th century. The water in the oceans gets warmer because
of human activity, and that’s how we cause hurricanes ourselves. So what do you think is the most likely scenario
for our planet in the years to come? I’m betting on the sun, you know. After all, it’s too powerful not to be the
cause of our extinction in the end. Let me know your views down in the comments! Hey, if you learned something new today, then
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enjoy! Stay on the Bright Side of life!

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