Future red giant Sun

Future red giant Sun

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Credit: MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Future red giant Sun from Earth, artwork. The red giant Sun has swelled to near the orbit of Earth and pushed the planets out into new orbits. The surface of the Earth is molten and lifeless. This stage in the Sun's life will take place when the hydrogen fuel fusing in its central core has been exhausted. Gravitational collapse allows hydrogen fusion to restart around the inert core. The energy from this stage causes the massive expansion of the outer layers of the star. This stage, starting in some 5 billion years, will last about 700 million years and end with the formation of a small white dwarf Sun.

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