The sun has been shining from the sky for five billion years, making the earth livable. But how could the sun ever rise?
MUNICH – The sun, the center of our solar system with its eight planets, plays an important role in life on Earth. Not only does it provide the heat that allows liquid water to exist, but its light also enables photosynthesis in plants. But how can the sun actually rise?
The sun itself is a giant ball made mostly of hydrogen and helium. The Sun’s interior is under tremendous pressure, causing hydrogen atoms to fuse together and form helium nuclei – a process known as nuclear fusion. The fusion of four hydrogen nuclei produces a nucleus and helium energy. This energy is radiated in the form of light and heat and eventually reaches the Earth, creating favorable conditions for life.
The sun fuses hydrogen into helium and glows
For five billion years, the Sun has been fusing hydrogen into helium, radiating light and heat into space. But there is another significance of the Sun for life on Earth. Research has shown that intense eruptions from the Sun in the past may have influenced the development of life on our planet. Particles from the sun may have stimulated the formation of amino acids, thought to be the building blocks of life.
The sun will shine for another five billion years
The sun will continue to provide energy and heat for another five billion years before its “fuel” runs out. But long before that happens, the sun will change. In less than a billion years, the sun’s warming will cause the Earth’s oceans to evaporate. Eventually, the Sun will turn into a red giant, swelling greatly in the process. During this process, the planets will engulf Mercury and Venus, possibly scorching the Earth.
Eventually the sun will collapse into a tiny white dwarf and our solar system will become history. But until then, the Sun will continue to radiate its radiance and warmth into space and support life on Earth.
Machine assistance was used in this editorial article. The article was carefully screened by editor Tanya Banner before it was published.
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