DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Red giant Sun. Image 7 of 9. Artwork of the bloated red giant Sun roasting the Earth (lower frame) and Moon (centre right). The Sun will enter the red giant phase of its life as it uses up its nuclear fuel. This will happen within the next five billion years. As the Sun expands it will engulf Mercury and Venus, the two planets nearer the Sun than Earth. At this stage Earth has only a tenuous atmosphere of hot gases evolved from rocks, and meteorite impacts blast new craters on the baked surface. For a sequence showing the death of the Earth as the Sun expands and dies, see images E402/058-066.
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