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The Fate of the Solar System

Scientists believe that stars do not always remain the same. We believe our Sun and our solar system was formed by the collapse of a cloud of gas and dust in space 4.6 billion years ago. The Sun is now a middle aged star, with 9 planets and many other bodies near it in the solar system. In another 5 billion years, scientists think that the Sun will become much larger as energy from within makes the outer layers of the Sun expand, eventually becoming red giant. As this happens, most of the inner planets will be destroyed (including Earth). Eventually, after another 100 million years, the Sun will no longer be able to make energy, and will become a white dwarf, the size of a small planet.

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The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, available in our online store, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA