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Cosmic recycling

The loss of mass by dying stars is a key step in the gigantic cosmic recycling scheme we discussed in Between the Stars: Gas and Dust in Space . Remember that stars form from vast clouds of gas and dust. As they end their lives, stars return part of their gas to the galactic reservoirs of raw material. Eventually, some of the expelled material from aging stars will participate in the formation of new star systems.

However, the atoms returned to the Galaxy by an aging star are not necessarily the same ones it received initially. The star, after all, has fused hydrogen and helium to form new elements over the course of its life. And during the red-giant stage, material from the star’s central regions is dredged up and mixed with its outer layers, which can cause further nuclear reactions and the creation of still more new elements. As a result, the winds that blow outward from such stars include atoms that were “newly minted” inside the stars’ cores. (As we will see, this mechanism is even more effective for high-mass stars, but it does work for stars with masses like that of the Sun.) In this way, the raw material of the Galaxy is not only resupplied but also receives infusions of new elements. You might say this cosmic recycling plan allows the universe to get more “interesting” all the time.

The red giant sun and the fate of earth

How will the evolution of the Sun affect conditions on Earth in the future? Although the Sun has appeared reasonably steady in size and luminosity over recorded human history, that brief span means nothing compared with the timescales we have been discussing. Let’s examine the long-term prospects for our planet.

The Sun took its place on the zero-age main sequence approximately 4.5 billion years ago. At that time, it emitted only about 70% of the energy that it radiates today. One might expect that Earth would have been a lot colder than it is now, with the oceans frozen solid. But if this were the case, it would be hard to explain why simple life forms existed when Earth was less than a billion years old. Scientists now think that the explanation may be that much more carbon dioxide was present in Earth’s atmosphere when it was young, and that a much stronger greenhouse effect kept Earth warm. (In the greenhouse effect, gases like carbon dioxide or water vapor allow the Sun’s light to come in but do not allow the infrared radiation from the ground to escape back into space, so the temperature near Earth’s surface increases.)

Carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere has steadily declined as the Sun has increased in luminosity. As the brighter Sun increases the temperature of Earth, rocks weather faster and react with carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere. The warmer Sun and the weaker greenhouse effect have kept Earth at a nearly constant temperature for most of its life. This remarkable coincidence, which has resulted in fairly stable climatic conditions, has been the key in the development of complex life-forms on our planet.

As a result of changes caused by the buildup of helium in its core, the Sun will continue to increase in luminosity as it grows older, and more and more radiation will reach Earth. For a while, the amount of carbon dioxide will continue to decrease. (Note that this effect counteracts increases in carbon dioxide from human activities, but on a much-too-slow timescale to undo the changes in climate that are likely to occur in the next 100 years.)

Eventually, the heating of Earth will melt the polar caps and increase the evaporation of the oceans. Water vapor is also an efficient greenhouse gas and will more than compensate for the decrease in carbon dioxide. Sooner or later (atmospheric models are not yet good enough to say exactly when, but estimates range from 500 million to 2 billion years), the increased water vapor will cause a runaway greenhouse effect.

About 1 billion years from now, Earth will lose its water vapor. In the upper atmosphere, sunlight will break down water vapor into hydrogen, and the fast-moving hydrogen atoms will escape into outer space. Like Humpty Dumpty, the water molecules cannot be put back together again. Earth will start to resemble the Venus of today, and temperatures will become much too high for life as we know it.

All of this will happen before the Sun even becomes a red giant. Then the bad news really starts. The Sun, as it expands, will swallow Mercury and Venus, and friction with our star’s outer atmosphere will make these planets spiral inward until they are completely vaporized. It is not completely clear whether Earth will escape a similar fate. As described in this chapter, the Sun will lose some of its mass as it becomes a red giant. The gravitational pull of the Sun decreases when it loses mass. The result would be that the diameter of Earth’s orbit would increase (remember Kepler’s third law). However, recent calculations also show that forces due to the tides raised on the Sun by Earth will act in the opposite direction, causing Earth’s orbit to shrink. Thus, many astrophysicists conclude that Earth will be vaporized along with Mercury and Venus. Whether or not this dire prediction is true, there is little doubt that all life on Earth will surely be incinerated. But don’t lose any sleep over this—we are talking about events that will occur billions of years from now.

What then are the prospects for preserving Earth life as we know it? The first strategy you might think of would be to move humanity to a more distant and cooler planet. However, calculations indicate that there are long periods of time (several hundred million years) when no planet is habitable. For example, Earth becomes far too warm for life long before Mars warms up enough.

A better alternative may be to move the entire Earth progressively farther from the Sun. The idea is to use gravity in the same way NASA has used it to send spacecraft to distant planets. When a spacecraft flies near a planet, the planet’s motion can be used to speed up the spacecraft, slow it down, or redirect it. Calculations show that if we were to redirect an asteroid so that it follows just the right orbit between Earth and Jupiter, it could transfer orbital energy from Jupiter to Earth and move Earth slowly outward, pulling us away from the expanding Sun on each flyby. Since we have hundreds of millions of years to change Earth’s orbit, the effect of each flyby need not be large. (Of course, the people directing the asteroid had better get the orbit exactly right and not cause the asteroid to hit Earth.)

It may seem crazy to think about projects to move an entire planet to a different orbit. But remember that we are talking about the distant future. If, by some miracle, human beings are able to get along for all that time and don’t blow ourselves to bits, our technology is likely to be far more sophisticated than it is today. It may also be that if humans survive for hundreds of millions of years, we may spread to planets or habitats around other stars. Indeed, Earth, by then, might be a museum world to which youngsters from other planets return to learn about the origin of our species. It is also possible that evolution will by then have changed us in ways that allow us to survive in very different environments. Wouldn’t it be exciting to see how the story of the story of the human race turns out after all those billions of years?

Key concepts and summary

After stars become red giants, their cores eventually become hot enough to produce energy by fusing helium to form carbon (and sometimes a bit of oxygen.) The fusion of three helium nuclei produces carbon through the triple-alpha process. The rapid onset of helium fusion in the core of a low-mass star is called the helium flash. After this, the star becomes stable and reduces its luminosity and size briefly. In stars with masses about twice the mass of the Sun or less, fusion stops after the helium in the core has been exhausted. Fusion of hydrogen and helium in shells around the contracting core makes the star a bright red giant again, but only temporarily. When the star is a red giant, it can shed its outer layers and thereby expose hot inner layers. Planetary nebulae (which have nothing to do with planets) are shells of gas ejected by such stars, set glowing by the ultraviolet radiation of the dying central star.

Questions & Answers

I l don't understand questions
Nkateko Reply
which quesrions?
Ankit
How to make a telescope
Amit Reply
***youtube.com/channel/UClBN_RpR5X8IdrARwnaL3fg
Steve
***wikihow.com/Make-a-Telescope
Jennifer
optical mechanics
Astro
aptical
Nkateko
Which one has the ring
Isaac Reply
Saturn venue and even Jupiter all have rings the rings on Jupiter, however, aren't so easily noticed due to them only being viable through infrared
Hunter
visible *
Hunter
they each have three rings but not as you might think just think of them all as one big ring because that's basically what they are but they are desperate individual rings
Hunter
separate*
Hunter
can you tell me what is a quantam elighment? Lets see how many people give write answers
gdjm Reply
can you tell me what is a fomalhaut?
gdjm
Fomalhaut Is The Brightest Star In The Constalellation Of Piscis Austrinus.....
Adam
joe.
Tracy
Do You Mean Quantum Entanglement?
Adam
yes
gdjm
No Adam fomalhaut mean eye of universe
gdjm
quantum entanglement is when a husband has been married so long to his wife that he is directly influenced by her action usually in an opposite way. 🤣
Jocofranc
It Is Also The Brightest Star Of The The Constalellation Of Piscis Austrinus.....
Adam
who was the first person to get to the planet
Isaac
can anyone tell me daily rotation of the sun in tokyo
Liridona Reply
tokyo has it's own personal sun
Tracy
can you send me any pictures of the tokyo sun
Liridona
sure! ig?
Tracy
here can u?
Liridona
no it wont let me sadly
Tracy
or
Liridona
snapchat
Liridona
i dont have snapchat 😰
Tracy
okay ig
Liridona
my ig is fatwigga37 if you'd like to see :)
Tracy
Can we use SI units in the equation of Kepler's third law?
Naiyu Reply
can u tell the equation pls
sasmita
how does religion enters to this topic when god created this world
Sakira
How Do You Know A God Created Our Planet?
Adam
you must read bible
Sakira
u must the bible
Sakira
How Do You That Book Is Authentic? And I Have Read The Bible, The Koran, The Torah And The Urantia.....
Adam
The law is T^2 is proportional to R^3 where t is planet's time period and r is average of semi major axis and semi minor axis. Also,don't turn this place into a religious warzone. We already have idiots fighting about religion.
priyanshu
If I Had A Book That Said Insects Created The Universe, Would That Make It Fact?
Adam
Have You Ever Heard Of The Council Of Nicaea?
Adam
Through Out History Mankind Has Worshipped Over 5000 Different Gods, How Do You Know Christ Is The True God?
Adam
God Is A Hypothesis..... The Definition Of Faith Is Belief Without Proof.....
Adam
Thank You Prianshu Roy, This Is A Forum For Science Not Archaic Stories Written By Sheep Herders, Well Said.....
Adam
Hebrew 13:1
onome
P2 = a3
Adam
So You Quote A Bible Verse, Now What?
Adam
Science Discourse Nothing Else.....
Adam
god is real he's not just a wise guess
Sakira
god bless you
Sakira
u know what,u are not here if god werent there!
Sakira
Science Discourse, Nothing Else.....
Adam
Thier Are Many Religious Sites You Can Go To, To Discuss God.....
Adam
hahahaha
Sakira
Have A Great Day.....
Adam
night time here
Sakira
Look Up The Definition Of Day, Instead Of Trying To Look Witty, Again Have A Great Day.....
Adam
😈😈😈
Sakira
such an socratic person?
Sakira
What Was Your Intention In Stating "Night Time Here" ?
Adam
please don't fight over silly stuffs!
Romancho
tangina mo
Sakira
No I Don't Believe A God Exist, But I Will Fight For Your Right To Worship Any God You Wish.....
Adam
no fighting
Sakira
But This Venue Is For Science Discourse.....
Adam
i know!
Sakira
No Fighting, Just Discussion.....
Adam
yes Naiyu, we have to use SI unit in the equation for the Kepler's every laws
Madhav
Thanks.
Naiyu
wow
Kenneth
what's the scene of voyager 1,did we get any information through it
Aarushi Reply
we are getting a lot of info yet more to be received check official mission report from the officials site ....
Ganeshan
what are the best astronomy books?
neehar Reply
what is the parallel space?
neehar
how to measure the brightness of a star in w\m^2
Aarushi Reply
it's based on the percentage of helium I think
neehar
ok TQ😊
Aarushi
it's based planet colour and brightness which called lumiosity
gdjm
Are there planets that has the same characteristics as earth.
Nito Reply
yes ofcourse there are earth like planets but they aren't completely like earth.still scientists have a hope of life existence in there.
Aarushi
yeah of course example is Mars but they only discover water at mars
neehar
there's a much possibility of presence of earth like planets in the universe if they were present at goldilock zones
Jashwanth
what are goldilock zones?
Aarushi
why yes there are planets just like earth out there somewhere we know that much for sure given the number of planets in the galaxy, as a matter of fact, one of Jupiter moons officially named "gamamede" is very much like earth in size and characteristics
Hunter
How to become an astronomy
Aakarsh Reply
astronomer*
Emilya
Yes
Aakarsh
Astronomer
Aakarsh
yes i Also want to know the answer
Mehar
How to become?
Aakarsh
Me too
Romancho
By hard study
Zulker
Try to keep all the basics of science subjects and also English
Zulker
Ya i know that I will do hard work but
Aakarsh
I have always found astronomy fascinating, but my first love is philosophy.
GARY
I wanna become astromer as neel armstrang
Aakarsh
that's an astronaut
Emilya
Neil Armstrong
antman
what is your name who are you where are you why are you there
GARY
Neil Armstrong was an astronaut. You first work is to know the meaning of astrophysicist, astronomer, astronaut, astrologer and to find the work of the individual. And the most important thing is to be good in English. Because u have done some mistakes while doing chat with me like :an astronomer
Zulker
sorry I'm talking to somebody else someplace else on the internet
GARY
The heading will be "How to become an astronomer"
Zulker
jus be yourself and follow your passion and I think there is no need to copy anyone
Aarushi
hey it's simple yaar, it's based on your curiosity
neehar
what is the length of Earth
comedy Reply
The Earth is not a perfect sphere, however it's roughly 25,000 miles, or 131.5 million feet, or 1.6 Billion inches. In the Metric system its HUGE!
Jocofranc
Thank for your knowledge.Sr
nyo
But can I also know and calculate the whole weight of earth includeing flora, funa,water on earth even air's weight.Depending on super compruter, I think it can be.For the very detail in the Metric System.Such as kilogram and pound.
nyo
Earth is about 6 Sextillion metric tons check out formula at ***science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/geophysics/planet-earth-weigh.htm
Jocofranc
thank again Sr.I wanna ask another question if you don't mind.The earth had 4.5billion years age old.My question is from fire ball to today more and more stable geology was how happen.Please answer me starting of life on this planet and how many era are there and the earth history.
nyo
My friend you have asked a question(s) that scientists struggle with. There is no short cut...the information is lenghty. Here is an additional site for you. It is a good place to start. ***newscientist.com/article/dn17453-timeline-the-evolution-of-life/
Jocofranc
Sr,your web site is very useful to me.And another question is how gene or DNA transfer from parent to sibling.how we know the first DNA of our first human from arfarica.
nyo
Good morning Nyo; ur question is out of my league, although fascinating. Maybe you'll find this page helpful: ***genetics.thetech.org/ask/ask445
Jocofranc
If speed is so many thousand time of light and start to travel from one point,how speed will return to it starting point even in straight line back.Will time and energy be limit it?Can it be posible.Please let me explain Sr.
nyo
hey neo ur curiosity is great, where r u from?
neehar
in physics actully no but thory make possible
gdjm
earth is about 13,000 kilometers across
Hunter
there is aliens or parallel universe
Chithra Reply
There may be both who knows
Debabrata
It would be quite surprising to me to learn that there is no aliens in our very own galaxy. The size of our galaxy alone seems to favour life. There's so many reasons why we haven't made contact but as our technology grows we will undoubtedly find answers. I also think that it's possible that ...
Jocofranc
But I don't think that that alien species might be developed.... Because if they were developed or advanced than us then they must have located us first and might have even contacted us
Debabrata
many other universes exist. I don't think that they would be parallel universes in the purest sense of the word. Only speculations on my part. We simply dont know with certainty.
Jocofranc
Hi Debabrata; You may be right. It's hard to say with certainty. An ugly truth (guess really) is that Tellurian are simply not interesting. We are not all that!
Jocofranc
Yeah Jocofranc you are also right about parallel universe. Who knows what lies ahead.
Debabrata
the parallel universe theory is something secondary but first let's focus on the nearby objects like titan which shows great hope
Aarushi
I read it before about aliens, but I have to research on it
neehar
yeah of course
neehar
What about XTs... Exo-Tellurians. Ancient people who could have obtain a spurt of technology and left home. Progression of men r not always linear but sometime cyclic. Civilization comes and goes. Geo-upheaval can easily erase any evidence. Our bros r out there. (have fun 😁)
Jocofranc
sir jocofranc I think u didn't listen about aliens who send a message to our space research organization.
neehar
what is inside Jupiter how it will rain there
Chithra Reply
interesting question!
Mahesh
would love to learn about it 😃
Morrie
jupiter is a gas gaint so you can't walk on the surface like here on earth, but there is a solid core.
Yannick
The latest term being used is a 'fuzzy core'. An inbetween of solid and liquid. Check ***sciencemag.org/news/2019/08
Jocofranc
I think it based on the nature of the source in Jupiter
neehar
Scientists believe that onJupiter and Saturn, it rains diamonds. New atmospheric data for the gas giants indicates that carbon is abundant in its dazzling crystal form, the BBC reports. Lightning storms turn methane into soot which hardens into chunks of graphite and then diamond as it falls.
gdjm
Where is a moon HOW MANY KILLOMETER FAR FROM EARTH
Guddi Reply
On Average 383,000 Kilometers, Between Perigee And Apogee.....
Adam
386,000 km
neehar
3.6×10^5 km
gdjm
Practice Key Terms 3

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Source:  OpenStax, Astronomy. OpenStax CNX. Apr 12, 2017 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11992/1.13
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