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The Sun will become a glowing ring of gas and dust when it dies

The Ring Nebula, a planetary nebula (NASA)Astronomers have long known that the Sun will die when it runs out of fuel. Until now, they have predicted that it would simply fade away into space. Now an international team of scientists have developed a computer model that describes a different sequence of events. It shows that in about 5 billion years, the Sun will turn into a magnificent planetary nebula: a glowing ring of gas and dust. Brilliantly colourful, it will shine for about 10,000 years. Any life-forms inhabiting other planets in distant solar systems—even those from other galaxies millions of light years away—will be able to observe the stunning spectacle.

The Sun turns into a planetary nebula (ESO)The Sun is an average-sized star. Already 5 billion years old, it is halfway through its lifetime. When the Sun’s core runs out of hydrogen, it will swell into a red giant. It will grow so big, it will engulf the two nearest planets, Mercury and Venus.

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