2018
May
Standard

What will happen after the Sun dies?

In approximately ten billion years, our Sun will cease to exist, that much is clear. But astronomers, of course, are thinking even farther out – they wonder what will become of our mother star. Nine out of ten stars will leave behind a planetary nebula, a massive, illuminated cloud of interstellar gas and dust, when they transition from red giants to white dwarves. A nebula can contain almost half the mass of its former star; the nebula is visible for approximately 10,000 years, as long as the core is still hot enough to light up the cloud from inside. The Sun was previously thought to be too light to form such a permanent memorial – it was assumed that a star had to be at least twice the mass of the Sun.
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