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Name: Donnie
Status: Student
Grade: 9-12
Location: WI
Country: United States
Date: June 2006


Question:
How is it known that the sun will eventually destroy the Earth?



Replies:
Donnie,

Other than being the closest star to our planet (by far!) our Sun is a very typical star and you would barely be able to see it if it was 10 parsecs away (a standard distance to measure absolute star brightness and is equal to about a distance 32.6 lightyears). But we do study stars and the life cycles of stars quite a bit. Based upon the mass and absolute brightness of a star we can predict the most probable fate of each star. The H-R Diagram (Hertzsprung-Russell) shows the fate of each of the stars based upon their mass and was made by taking actual data from the sky. You can read more about how this diagram works if you follow the link below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_sequence

Based upon this information, we know that our Sun will eventually start contracting after it burns all of the hydrogen in its core, then it will send out a shockwave when the core collapses. This will do two things, it will start helium fusion and it will expand the diameter of the sun out to about where Mars is (or at least far enough to consume the Earth). This knowledge is all based upon the mass and temperature of our Sun.

Matt Voss



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