An artist's rendering of a bright Sun. Shutterstock.

Scientists Predict The Death of the Sun

The sun will reach its maximum temperature in about 8 billion years and will eventually turn into a Red Giant in around 11 Billion years.


ESA’s Gaia mission has released the third installment of its results, including a database of the intrinsic properties of hundreds of millions of stars.

A star’s apparent brightness and color are accurately measured by Gaia from Earth. The process of converting basic observational features into intrinsic characteristics of a star takes a long time.


It is possible to plot each star in the universe on a single diagram because of the correlation between luminosity and age. An important cornerstone of astrophysics, the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, is known as the HR diagram. Hertzsprung and Russell independently designed HR diagrams in 1911 and 1913 to plot the intrinsic luminosity of stars against the effective surface temperature.

Through this process, we can see how stars evolve over their lifetimes. As a star ages, its size and temperature vary greatly, even though its mass does not change much. In the star, these changes are caused by the type of nuclear fusion reactions occurring at the time.

With a total age of 4.57 billion years, our Sun is currently in a comfortable middle age. It continues to fuse hydrogen into helium and generally seems to be in a fairly stable state. However, that is not always the case. It is expected to swell into a red giant as its hydrogen fuel runs out and the fusion process begins to change, lowering its surface temperature.

The exact process depends on the mass and chemical composition of a star. DR3 (Data Release 3) comes into play here. In order to obtain the most accurate stellar observations from Gaia, Orlagh Creevey of the Côte d’Azur Observatory in France and his colleagues analyzed the data from the spacecraft.


In a statement, Creevey explained that the team wanted a sample of stars with high-precision measurements.

Their efforts focused on stars with surface temperatures between 3,000K and 10,000K because they can shed light on the history of the Milky Way Galaxy. They are also promising candidates for finding exoplanets because of their close similarities to the Sun, whose surface temperature is 6,000K.

The sample was filtered to reveal only stars with similar mass and chemical composition to the Sun. Taking into account the age difference between the stars, they drew a line through the H-R diagram to represent our Sun’s evolution. The study showed how the temperature and luminosity of our star would change over time.

The results of this study indicate that our Sun will reach its maximum temperature in about 8 billion years, then cool and enlarge, becoming a red giant in about 10-11 billion years. As soon as the Sun reaches this point, it will become a dim white dwarf, which will be the end of its life.

In order to understand our place in the larger universe, we need to find stars similar to the Sun. Creevey asserts that if we cannot understand our own Sun, which we don’t know much about, how can we hope to understand all the other stars that make up our galaxy?

Ironically, the Sun is our closest star and the star we study most extensively, but its proximity forces us to use telescopes and instruments completely different from those we use to observe the rest of the universe. Since it is so close, and so bright, different tools are needed.

In order to overcome this observational gap, similar stars can be identified, but this time with similar ages.


Using Gaia data, Creevey and colleagues identified stars that are similar to the Sun in terms of their temperature, surface gravity, composition, mass, and radius.

A total of 5,863 stars met their criteria.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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