MAR 17, 2017 09:23 AM PDT

What would happen if the Sun died?


The sun dying is one of those ideas that seems so improbable that it's not even worth thinking about. But fast forwarding to one billion years from now and you would think otherwise; that's when the sun will have used up all the hydrogen fuel in its core, forcing it to burn at its surface. That's no good news for planet Earth, as the increased radiation will evaporate all of Earth's water, essentially creating a global desert.

Now jump five billion years ahead: at this point the dying sun will literally be melting mountains and there will be no life left on our dear planet. By 7.5 billion years from now, the sun will consume the planet entirely - bye bye world! Talk about an existential crisis.

But some scientists aren't about to let this apocalyptic ending come crashing and burning (quite literally). Through a technique called Gravity Assist, which relies on Newton's Law, "To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction," physicists think that it may be possible to incrementally (over millions of years) move the Earth's orbit farther from the Sun. This method would require using an asteroid or something of equivalent mass (approximately 10^19 kg) to gradually (every 6,000 or so) increase the distance of the Earth's orbit around the Sun to 225 million km. However, that's risky business because it could greatly disturb other planets' orbits in our solar system, increase the spin of Earth, and potentially destroy the moon. Uh oh. The good news is we have a lot of time to take action!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
NOV 05, 2018
Videos
NOV 05, 2018
The Mechanisms Underlying the Deadly Blow of the Mantis Shrimp
The mantis shrimp packs a powerful punch that can strike its enemies with one of the fastest moves in the animal kingdom....
NOV 14, 2018
Videos
NOV 14, 2018
The Sunscreen Gene
Wouldn't it be convenient if we didn't have to worry about sunscreen because our bodies were able to just make it when we needed it?...
NOV 15, 2018
Videos
NOV 15, 2018
Viewing the Interactions Between Cellular Structures
Scientists have used powerful microscopy techniques to learn more about how the dynamics of a live cell....
NOV 25, 2018
Earth & The Environment
NOV 25, 2018
What Would Happen if An Asteroid Slammed Into One of Earth's Oceans?
Have you ever wondered what would happen if an asteroid plopped right into one of Earth’s oceans? Curious researchers wanted to know too, and so they...
DEC 04, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 04, 2018
Learn How NASA's Apollo 12 Mission Escaped Double Lightning Strikes
When NASA’s Apollo 12 mission was preparing to launch on November 14th, 1969, ominous storm clouds began swarming the launch pad. Regardless, weather...
DEC 05, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 05, 2018
SpaceX Launches International Space Station Resupply Mission
On Wednesday, Elon Musk-owned SpaceX launched its 20th rocket of 2018 to send a fresh batch of supplies to the International Space Station. The rocket blas...
Loading Comments...