Sun is comparatively a younger star and while it is huge, it hasn’t achieved its maximum size yet which it will achieve in the next five billion years. Once it does so, scientists are of the opinion that Earth may not exist and life will most certainly be wiped out.
An international team of scientists used the most powerful radio telescope on Earth to observe a star named L2 Puppis that is said to have evolved along the lines of how Sun would in the course of next 5-7 billion years. The star is approximately 10 billion years old meaning that it is twice the age of our Sun and five billion years ago it was like a perfect twin to our Sun with the same mass.
Scientists say hat by observing the current status of L2 Puppis they will be able to determine what our Sun will be like in next 5 billion years and determine the fate of nearby planets including Earth. Sun will evolve into a Red Giant thereby gaining in size – 100 times to be precise – and this invariably means that it will engulf the two innermost planets of our Solar System – Mercury and Venus.
What will happen to Earth? That’s what the team has been trying to find out. Observing L2 Puppis has given some clues about what would be the state of our Sun five billion years from now. Scientists have noted in their observation that about 300 million kilometres from the L2 Puppis or twice the distance between the Sun and the Earth there seems to be a body – most likely a planet – orbiting the star. While it hasn’t been ascertained that the body is indeed a planet, scientists believe that deeper understanding of the L2 Puppis system will serve as a window to the fate of the Sun and our Solar System billions of years from today.
The team hasn’t been able to determine the fare of Earth, but one thing is for sure that if life exists at the time, it will be wiped out owing to the sheer size of the Sun and the heat generated by it.
“But will the Earth’s rocky core survive the red giant phase and continue orbiting the white dwarf?” questions Professor Leen Decin from the KU Leuven Institute of Astronomy.