Solar Facts (03:45)
The sun is 4.5 billion-years-old and will eventually die, likely destroying Earth. Its core is a hydrogen-helium fusion nuclear reactor that will run out of fuel. The sun is 93 million miles away, the perfect distance for life.
Birth of the Solar System (02:46)
Stars are born in nebulas. Doug Duncan explains the birth of the sun; remaining stellar material becomes the planets. As a young star, the sun's rotation is fast and unpredictable.
Solar Dating (02:07)
The sun is now middle aged, the energy it uses and produces is enormous. In the 1990s, scientists confirm the sun's 12 billion year lifespan through helioseismology.
Global Warming (04:21)
The luminosity of the sun increases with age, and contributes to the Greenhouse Effect. In 1 billion years, Earth's temperature will be 100 degrees hotter; Venus provides a model for the effects of solar climate change. Consider what Earth will be like in 3 billion and 10 billion years.
Chemistry of a Dying Star (05:34)
As the sun burns through hydrogen, fusion moves from the core to the shell, causing expansion and increasing luminosity. Energy pressure results in a helium flash, creating carbon, oxygen, and contraction. The sun will enter a stable phase before the helium exhausts; contraction and expansion will continue.
Future of the Planets (07:55)
Earth could be engulfed by the Red Giant expansion. Hope for survival can be found by observing the planets of other dying stars. Solar winds could blow away part of the sun's mass, decreasing its gravitational pull, and expanding our orbit. Tidal forces could pull Earth back, resulting in incineration.
Human Survival (04:51)
In 1 billion years, Earth will be uninhabitable; relocation to Mars requires terraforming, and only a temporary solution as the sun continues to expand. The plaent could be moved by manipulating its orbit with an asteroid.
Ending Phases (06:47)
As mass and gravity depletes, the sun will shrink and become blue and white; it will not create a super nova. Its planetary nebula will drift away; half its mass will remain, but its thermal energy will burn for trillions of years. The solar system will freeze and life will disappear.
Duplicating Solar Power (04:40)
Nuclear fission is possible. Scientists are attempting to create a small star by compressing hydrogen with a laser. Humans would no longer be dependent on the sun, which will become a black dwarf. (Credits)
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