The Sun is the star at the centre of the Solar System – a perfect sphere of hot plasma that is the most important source of energy for life on Earth. Roughly three-quarters of its mass consists of hydrogen and the rest is mostly helium. Though it has not changed dramatically for more than four billion years, NASA scientists believe the Sun is roughly halfway through its life cycle.
It currently fuses about 600 million tonnes of hydrogen into helium every second, converting four million tonnes of matter into energy every second as a result.
However, Brian Cox warned during his BBC series “Empire of the Sun” what could happen in the future.
He said in 2010: “The Sun will spend most of its life on the main sequence, steadily burning its vast reserves of hydrogen fuel. This will last for at least another five billion years.
“But, eventually, the fuel will run out and its core will collapse.
Our own planet’s prospects are dim
“Then, something remarkable will happen, the Sun’s outer layer will expand and its colour will shift.
“Mercury will be little more than a memory as it’s engulfed by the expanding red Sun.”
Dr Cox explained how the Sun will expand to become a red giant and swallow everything in its path.
He added: “It will grow to 200 times its size today, stretching all the way out to the Earth’s orbit, where our own planet’s prospects are dim.
“The wonder that has remained so constant throughout all of its 10 billion years of life will end its days as a red giant.
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“For a few brief instances it will be 2000 times as bright as it is now, but that won’t last for long.
“Eventually it will shed its outer shell and all that will be left is its cooling core
“In all its wonders, the aurora that danced through the atmosphere of the planets in the Solar System, and the light that sustains all of life here on Earth, will be gone.”
However, Dr Rolf Schmidt, from the Invertebrate Palaeontology Melbourne Museum in Australia thinks another event could end humankind much earlier.
He warned during Amazon Prime’s “The Next Extinction Event” how climate change should not be the only thing on people’s minds.
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