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The Winter 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist includes a variety of educational resources, ranging from astronomy to glaciers. Check out the other publications and classroom materials in our online store.

How old is the Sun? What will happen when the Sun turns into a nebula?

The Sun was actually FORMED from a nebula over 4 and a half billion years ago. A nebula is a cloud of dust and gas (often called "gust"). If enough of this dust and gas gather together, a star can form inside a nebula.

The Sun is now halfway through its life span. So in another 5 billion years, the Sun might begin to change. The Sun will expand, becoming a red giant. The Sun will be so big that it will engulf Mercury, while Venus will probably orbit just outside of the Sun's surface. The Earth will be scorched at this point, leaving the planet unsuitable for life. Pluto, in fact, would be the only planet suitable for any life in the solar system.

At the very end of its life cycle, the Sun is likely blow off its outermost layers. It will then shrink to the size of the Earth, becoming a cooler white dwarf star.


Submitted by Victor (Oregon, USA)
Submitted by Benjamin (Pennsylvania, USA)
(October 9, 1997)



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