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How Will the World End
I'm Fraser Cain, the publisher of UniverseToday. There is almost nothing that could completelydestroy the earth. Follow your instincts and ignore anyone raisingalarms about its imminent demise. Oh sure, there's a pile of events that couldmake life more difficult, and a laundry list of things that could wipe out all of humanity. Including: asteroid strikes, rising temperatures,or global plagues In order to actually destroy the Earth, youwould need significantly more energy, and there just happens to be enough, a short onehundredandfifty(150) million kilometers away: the Sun.
The Sun has been in the main sequence of itslife for the last fourpointfive (4.5) billion years, converting hydrogen into helium. For stars this massive, that phase lasts forabout ten (10) billion years, meaning we're only halfway through. When the Sun does finally run out of hydrogento burn, it'll begin fusing helium into carbon, expanding outward in the process. It will become a cooler, larger, red giantstar, consuming the orbits of Mercury and Venus.
Scientists are still unsure if the red giantphase of the Sun will consume the Earth. If it does, the Earth's story ends there. It'll get caught up inside the Sun, and spiralinward to its demise. Death by red giant in fivepointfive (5.5)billion years. If the Sun doesn't consume the Earth thenwe'll have a long, cold future ahead of us. The Sun will shrink down to a white dwarfand begin cooling down to the background temperature of the Universe. The Earth and the rest of the surviving planetswill continue orbiting the dying Sun for potentially
trillions of years. If we're exceedingly lucky, the Sun will gettoo close to another star, and the gravitational interactions will capture Earth in orbit,giving our planet a second chance for life. If not, the Earth will continue followingthe dying Sun around and around the Milky Way for an incomprehensible amount of time. At this point, the main risk to the planetis a collision. Or maybe it'll spiral inward over vast periodsof time to be destroyed by the Sun, or collide with another planet.
Or perhaps the entire Solar System will slowlymake its way into the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. One last possibility. Physicists think thatprotons the building blocks of atoms might eventually decay, becoming smaller particlesand pure energy. After an undecillion years a 1 followed by thirtysix (36) zeros halfof the Earth will have just melted away into energy. But if protons don't decay, the Earth couldtheoretically last forever. The bottom line, the Earth was built to last.
Thanks for watching.