The Fate of the Sun
In about 5 billion years, the hydrogen in the center of the Sun
will start to run out. The helium will get squeezed. This will
speed up the hydrogen burning. Our star will slowly puff into a
. It will eat all of the inner planets, even the Earth.
As the helium gets squeezed, it will soon get hot enough to burn into
carbon. At the same time, the carbon can also join helium to form oxygen.
The Sun is not very big compared to some stars. It will never get hot
enough in the center to burn carbon and oxygen. These elements will
collect in the center of the star. Later it will shed most of its outer
layers, creating a planetary nebula, and reveal a hot
white dwarf star.
Nearly 99 percent of all stars in the galaxy will end their lives as white
dwarfs. By studying the stars that have already changed, we can learn
about the fate of our own Sun.
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