Our Sun Might Look Like This...In 6 Billion Years

Illustration for article titled Our Sun Might Look Like This...In 6 Billion Years

Is this a Droid wallpaper? A Pokeball? Nope, it's actually hot water surrounding a giant carbon star. It's a phenomenon that's puzzling scientists and it's happening to a star similar to our Sun.

In 6 billion years, our Sun will be nearing the end of its life and expanding outward. Much like this star, it'll have more carbon than oxygen in its atmosphere. What have scientists confused is that water vapor isn't supposed to be surrounding a dying star like this. The train of thought is that all the oxygen would be bound up in carbon monoxide which wouldn't allow it to react with hydrogen to create water.

But water has been building up for some time (since 2001) which made scientists theorize that as the star expanded outward into its solar system it would vaporize whatever icy planets and comets in their way. Which would mean the water would be cold, since those planets were far from the star's core.


But, as scientists have recently found, the water is hot. So they're floating another theory saying that ultraviolet light from nearby stars is reaching the atmosphere and causing the carbon monoxide to break apart, which would release the oxygen needed to create water. Basically it's theories abound with no concrete explanation. Astronomer Leen Decin, lead author of the study says:

"It makes us realize that the chemistry in all stars can be much more complex than we thought it was. If we don't understand what is created from these old stars, we don't know what the main ingredients of new stars and planets are made from."

At least they have 6 billion years to figure out why and how this happens before they see it with our Sun. [Wired]

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