The Sun will engulf nearby planets like Mercury, Venus and Earth during its last years. Here’s what will happen.
Our Sun is nearly 4.57 billion years old and is currently in the middle of its life cycle. But as all good things must come to an end, the eventual extinction of the Sun is unstoppable. Now, a new study has revealed that during its last years in the solar system, the Sun will engulf nearby planets like Mercury, Venus and Earth.
Just a couple of days ago, a new study by the European Space Agency (ESA) revealed that the Sun has entered its middle age, estimated to be around 4.57 billion years. It seems that the Sun is also going through a mid-life crisis with frequent Solar Flares, Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) and Solar Storms. The study was conducted with the help of data collected by the Gaia spacecraft.
The study concluded that the Sun will reach its peak temperatures nearly 8 billion years into the future after which it will lower its surface temperature and increase its size. It is during this expansion that the Sun will become a red giant, swallowing nearby planets, according to a study submitted for publication in the Royal Astronomical Journal.
The study states that interactions between a planet or brown dwarf and the hot gas in the star’s outer envelope can result in a variety of outcomes depending on the stage of the evolution of the star and the size of the engulfed object.
Scientists studied this by conducting three-dimensional hydrodynamical simulations of the flow in the vicinity of a planet engulfed in a stellar envelope. It was found that the Sun’s luminosity increases exponentially when it engulfs the planet.
Lead author Ricardo Yarza at the University of California in Santa Cruz said, “As the planet travels inside the star, drag forces transfer energy from the planet to the star, and the stellar envelope can become unbound if the transferred energy exceeds its binding energy.”