SEP 22, 2017 3:01 PM PDT

Just How Long Can We Survive Without the Sun?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

You can probably already guess that life on Earth won't be possible without the Sun. But do you know exactly how death of our star will affect the Earth?

The sun doesn't just go out in a bang, but rather the dying process takes millions of years. As it continues to burn through its finite supply of hydrogen atoms, the center contracts and the outer region gets larger and hotter. And during this process, the sun's luminosity grows by 10% for every 1 billion years of hydrogen fusing. This increase in brightness means temperatures will increase for every planet within the range of the sun's rays, including Earth.

At such point, water on our planet will evaporate and the ice caps will melt permanently. Earth will then resemble a hot and barren planet, like that of Venus. After all the hydrogen has burned out and the sun finishes its cooling process, it will end up a white dwarf, leaving many inhospitable planets in its wake.

This process is estimated to take place in about 5 billion years. Would any humans be around at that time to witness the event or would we have already been gone by such point? If we were still around, would humans have found refuge elsewhere on another planet?
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
JAN 08, 2021
Neuroscience
Brain Scans Show Why Comedy-News Shows are More Memorable
JAN 08, 2021
Brain Scans Show Why Comedy-News Shows are More Memorable
Comedy-news shows such as those by Trevor Noah, John Oliver, and Samantha Bee on the rise and are especially popular amo ...
MAY 02, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Average Day on Venus Lasts 243 Earth Days
MAY 02, 2021
Average Day on Venus Lasts 243 Earth Days
Although Venus is our planet’s closest neighbour, its fundamental properties have remained largely unknown. Now th ...
MAY 23, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Why Do Some Stars Vanish from Space?
MAY 23, 2021
Why Do Some Stars Vanish from Space?
Current theories suggest that stars undergo changes on timescales of millions or billions of years, and that their end i ...
MAY 28, 2021
Plants & Animals
Wild Gorillas Adopt Orphaned Babies
MAY 28, 2021
Wild Gorillas Adopt Orphaned Babies
An analysis of over 50 years of data reveals that with the help of their social group, orphaned mountain gorillas do jus ...
JUN 04, 2021
Plants & Animals
What Elephant Trunks Teach Science about Suction
JUN 04, 2021
What Elephant Trunks Teach Science about Suction
How an elephant picks up a tortilla chip could inspire next-generation suction technology.
JUN 28, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Yeast Engineered to Produce Biofuel from Previously Unusable Biomass
JUN 28, 2021
Yeast Engineered to Produce Biofuel from Previously Unusable Biomass
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found a way to expand biofuel production with geneticall ...
Loading Comments...