• May 4, 2006

    Episode 34: Saving the Sun

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    The Sun will be around for about another 5 billion years. After that, the Sun will have exhausted the hydrogen fuel it uses for fusion. Its outer atmosphere will swell, vaporizing the Earth's atmosphere and boiling the seas. Scientists wonder if there is a way to extend the Sun's life. Hydrogen is converted to helium during fusion, releasing energy in the Sun's core. This energy is transported through the surface. When the fuel is exhausted, a lot of hydrogen will still be left throughout the structure of the Sun. Perhaps scientists could figure out how to transport that unused hydrogen into the Sun's core. Alternately, smaller-mass stars burn their fuel more slowly. Is there a way to remove mass from the sun? Both ideas are pretty tricky since the Sun is comprised of hot plasma.