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
AUG 06, 2020
Plants & Animals
Swine Fever Threatens Critically Endangered Indian Hogs
AUG 06, 2020
Swine Fever Threatens Critically Endangered Indian Hogs
The Associated Press reports that the world's smallest and rarest wild pig species is undergoing its own virus lockd ...
AUG 28, 2020
Plants & Animals
Will Traps Solve the Invasive Lionfish Problem?
AUG 28, 2020
Will Traps Solve the Invasive Lionfish Problem?
Extravagant and spiny lionfish were once highly sought after by home aquarium hobbyists. These venomous fish are native ...
SEP 01, 2020
Plants & Animals
Warsaw Zoo Testing CBD to Manage Elephants' Stress
SEP 01, 2020
Warsaw Zoo Testing CBD to Manage Elephants' Stress
Humans use cannabidiol (CBD) for its array of health benefits, and household pets even benefit from CBD treatments in sp ...
SEP 24, 2020
Health & Medicine
Extreme Isolation can Cause Physical Brain Changes
SEP 24, 2020
Extreme Isolation can Cause Physical Brain Changes
By this point in the year, you’ve either heard or uttered the phrase “quarantine brain.” While the act ...
OCT 07, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Discovery of Phosphine on Venus - What Does It Mean?
OCT 07, 2020
Discovery of Phosphine on Venus - What Does It Mean?
A Nature Astronomy paper in September, titled "Phosphine gas in the cloud decks of Venus", has led t ...
DEC 10, 2020
Plants & Animals
The Surprising Way Honeybees Protect Hives from Hornets
DEC 10, 2020
The Surprising Way Honeybees Protect Hives from Hornets
"Murder hornets," more commonly known as giant hornets, might be new to North America, but in their native ran ...
Loading Comments...