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. 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 experience some changes. The Sun will expand to be several times its current size, becoming a red giant. Its effect on the terrestial planets will be devastating. The Sun will engulf Mercury, while Venus will probably orbit just outside the solar surface. The Earth will be scorched at this point, leaving the planet unsuitable for life. Pluto, in fact, would probably be the only planet suitable for any life in the solar system.

Because of its smallish size (compared with other stars), it is not likely that the Sun will undergo a supernova explosion. This type of explosion would create the aforementioned nebula. At the very end of its life cycle, the Sun will likely blow off only its outermost layers and 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)

Windows to the Universe Community



You might also be interested in:

What are the retrograde motions of planets in the sky?

It depends on what kind of motion you are talking about. When seen from the north pole of the celestial sphere all planets orbit around the Sun in a counter-clockwise or direct path. Most planets also...more

How do Astronauts Live in Space?

Almost everyone has a question or two about living in space. What do astronauts do in space? How do they do everyday things like eat, sleep and go to the bathroom? Well, this is our attempt to answer...more

How far is the Earth from the Sun, the Moon and all the other planets? How far are all of the planets from the Sun? Do you know of a software that tracks the planets in real-time?

There is a really neat internet program called Solar System Live that shows the position of all of the planets and the Sun for any given day. If you go to that page, you'll see an image similar to the...more

Is it really true that man never really walked on the Moon?

The picture of the American Flag (the one put there by the Apollo astronauts) is waving (or straight out) in the wind. How could that be possible if there is no atmosphere on the Moon? Was it some sort...more

How many planets orbit the sun?

I was wondering if there is a new planet? Are there planets (a tenth planet?) after Pluto belonging to our solar system? What are the names of the new planets discovered in the solar system? Are there...more

According to Stephen Hawking, any object with an energy which equals Plank's energy has to become a black hole.

If that is so, the energy released during the Big Bang must have created many such black holes. Therefore most of the Energy of the Big bang must have disappeared in that form. Then how did the Universe...more

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