MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Stages in the birth and death of the Solar System. A globule forms from a giant molecular cloud. The globule contracts gravitationally, forming a protoplanetary disc called the solar nebula. A bipolar outflow of charged particles may also be visible. The stars and the planets form within the solar nebula. In about 6 billon years from now, the Sun expands into a red giant, swallowing the inner two planets, and possibly Earth. Sun sheds its outer layers to form a planetary nebula. A few tens of thousands of years later, the planetary nebula dissipates, leaving behind the remaining planets orbiting the Sun's original, exposed core - now a white dwarf.
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