Magazine article Geographical

Earth to Survive Final Sunset. (Technology)

Magazine article Geographical

Earth to Survive Final Sunset. (Technology)

Article excerpt

According to UK astronomers, the Sun's demise in 7.5 billion years' time will not mean the end of the Earth, as was previously believed. In fact it will be around for another 200 million years.

It is widely accepted that the Sun will die because it will run out of fuel. Before its end it is expected to expand twice, as it burns the remaining hydrogen and the helium. It was thought that during this period of expansion the Sun would engulf Earth, along with Mercury and Venus. However, the new calcuations suggest this is not the case.

Before we breathe a sigh of relief, though, the recent findings conclude the Sun's expansion will still kill all flora and fauna on the Earth's surface, leaving it a scorched lump of rock.

"In around 5.7 billion years' time, Earth will be subjected to temperatures of around 18,000 [degrees] C," said Dr Robert Connon Smith, Reader in Astronomy at Sussex University.

"The Sun will expand and become a red giant, or super red giant, and in this state much of its mass can get lost," Smith told Geographical. "With this, the radius of the Earth's orbit will expand and move out far enough to save the planet -- but it will still be scorched."

The latest calculations by Smith's colleague Dr Peter Schroeder were calibrated against data from known super red giants. …

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