A Dying Star Offers a Glimpse of the Sun’s Future
A brand new new image of a dying star thousands of light years away is like a time machine of sorts for us today. It’s offering us a new glimpse of what our sun will look like in billions of years
A brand new new image of a dying star thousands of light years away is like a time machine of sorts for us today. It's offering us a new glimpse of what our sun will look like in billions of years’ time in its final intense struggle of death.
There’s absolutely no denying it that it's just like every other star out there, but our sun’s future will be explosive and cataclysmic for our solar system as its constant nuclear reactions wane and pump irregular energy pulses into space.
As the outer gases of the sun shed, it will eventually reveal a ultra-hot core, creating the ultraviolet light show creating what we now see as a nebula elsewhere throughout our universe.
In this particular case, the nebula that the Hubble Space Telescope has its powerful lens focused on is known as Kohoutek 4-55, named after the Czech astronomer Luboš Kohoutek, famously referenced in an early episode of The Simpsons.
According to the European Space Agency (ESA) – which jointly operates the space telescope along side with NASA – the nebula is approximately 4,600 light years from Earth and is in the direction of the constellation Cygnus.
The image of the dying star using the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) is a composite of three separate images, each of which was taken at a specific wavelength to isolate the light coming from particular atoms of gas.
The swirling gas visible surrounding the nebula is a very good indication, the ESA says, of how our own sun will look in about 5 billion years time when, once it’s shed all of its layers, it will be transformed into a small white dwarf.
By the time this happens, the Earth will be nothing but a burnt shell completely devoid of any life. It’s probably a really good thing we won’t be around to see it happen.