MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Stages in the birth and death of the Sun. A supernova encourages a passing gas cloud to begin gravitational collapse. The gas cloud contracts and flattens into a protoplanetary disc called the solar nebula. A bipolar outflow of charged particles may also be visible. The Sun begins to shine as a fully fledged star on the Main Sequence. Present day – Sun still shining at an age of 4.6 billion years. Hydrogen runs low, and the Sun expands slightly into a subgiant, growing cooler and redder but more luminous. With hydrogen now totally depleted, the subgiant expands into a huge red giant, around 200 times the size of the original Sun (not to scale). The star pulsates, puffing off its outermost layers to form a glowing planetary nebula. All that is left is the core of the original Sun, now a white dwarf.
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