We all love shooting stars. Some people believe that if you make a wish at just the right moment as it flies by, then, there’s a very good chance your dreams and aspirations will come true.
As scientists, we love the culture, but, never get to allow ourselves to get fully immersed into mythologies. Part of the reason behind our thinking is that if we’re ever going to truly map out how the heavens are layered and structures, we need more than just word of mouth to guide us.
From scientific findings, shooting stars are nothing more than just bits of dust, rapidly burning up harmlessly in the night sky. While it’s quite normal to spot a couple of shooting stars on a clear night, on occasion, you might see a flurry of shooting stars. During such meteor showers, astrology lovers’ world over gather to gander at the wonder that is the cosmos.
That brings us to the main agenda today. What if the sun were to fizzle out? Would it behave in the same manner as shooting stars?
It’s an interesting conversation, largely because we’ve been able to witness the death of a couple of stars in the Milky Way. Usually, when that happens, we describe them as supernovas.
Because such explosions are typically really bright and powerful, there’s usually a release of plenty of dust into space. This material is not usually lost, but, is used in the making of future stars and planets. In fact, if we were to closely track our universe, you’ll discover that our very own solar system consists of the very same materials from these explosions. Essentially, all life on earth, even we as humans, originates from stardust.
Having said that, it’s worth noting that no such thing is actually feasible. This is because constitutionally speaking, the sun in incapable of reaching such extremes. From years of research, scientists have ascertained that only stars 10 times the size of our sun, or bigger, actually explode in this manner.
That’s not to say that a sun explosion is out of the picture. Not at all. The key thing to note is that when supernovas explode, they do so with so much fervor that they completely annihilate anything in our wake. Because of the diminutive nature of our star, a sun explosion is likely going to happen at a slower rate.
A good metaphor for the entire situation is envisioning the action of an inflated balloon. Supernovas behave in the same manner as bursting balloons. On the other hand, if a sun explosion happens, it would very much resemble the gradual deflation of a balloon.
Astronauts have played a big role in helping us ascertain the age of our solar system. The moon rocks brought back from their various expeditions have enabled us to tell the age of various elements like our sun.
We now know that the sun is about 4.5 billion years old. Given the fact that stars the size of the sunshine for about 9-10 billion years, we can safely say that the sun it at halfway through its life. From this projection, we can deduce that it will take another 5 billion years before a sun explosion.
Once the death process kicks in, astronomers believe that it will start to get bigger and colder. At this point, it will be referred to as a red giant. Because of the expansion, there’s a great possibility it will consume Mercury, Venus, and the Earth.
As the red giant continues expanding into a puffy figure, it will begin to blow off the outer layers into the solar system. This will cause it to get smaller and transition into a white dwarf.
At the center of a dead star, lies a white dwarf. This diminutive figure is usually super heavy and can weigh just as much as the sun. Interestingly, it forms after the original star loses so much stardust that it becomes just as big as the Earth.
Most of the solar system will probably still be around if the sun was to thin out into a white dwarf. Sure, Mercury, Venus, and the Earth will be no more, but, the other planets, i.e. Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune will still be in orbit. The same case applies to the Kuiper belt, asteroid belt and other dwarf planets like Pluto.
Given the diminutive nature of white dwarfs, at this stage, the sun would not be able to produce sufficient light sustain life on other planets in our solar system. Things would get dimmer, colder and the conditions would be non-conducive for any human activity to go on.
Hopefully, by then, we’ll have already built spaceships capable of leaving Earth to far-flung places in our galaxy and beyond. This would allow our planetary inhabitants to survive long after a sun explosion.
The sun is an integral cogwheel of the solar system. With planets like the Earth in orbit, things would become haywire if the sun exploded. Luckily, this fate is not bound to happen anytime soon. Even when it does, it will happen gradually and there’s every chance we’ll have anticipated the action and taken necessary remedial measures to survive.
You don’t have to reach out to the stars to have a glimpse of how the sun steers our solar system. With our Solar System Mini Set, you can catch a glimpse of the probable and get immersed into the sea of possibility. Make sure you check it out plus a host of other awesome planets in our gallery. You can invite a young learner over for an interactive session of fun and games as you both get to learn more about the world we live in. Sharing is caring!