Article 49: It may take a couple of ‘years’, but the Sun’s luminosity will burn down the Earth, the present Stelliferous Era will end and all stars in the universe will have exhausted their fuel.

1.3 billion YFN: Eukaryotic life (any organism whose cells contain a nucleus) dies out, due to carbon dioxide starvation. Only prokaryotes (any single-celled organism that lacks a membrane-bound nucleus) remain.

1.5–1.6 billion YFN: The Sun’s increasing luminosity causes its circumstellar habitable zone to move outwards. As carbon dioxide increases in Mars’s atmosphere, its surface temperature rises to levels akin to the Earth during the ice age.

2.8 billion YFN: Earth’s surface temperature, even at the poles, reaches an average of ~420 K (147°C, 296°F). At this point life, now reduced to unicellular colonies in isolated, scattered micro-environments such as high-altitude lakes or subsurface caves, will completely die out.

Lightning on Venus
Artist’s concept of lightning on Venus; Image Credit to ESA

3.5 billion YFN: Surface conditions on Earth are comparable to those on Venus today.

4 billion YFN: Median point by which the Andromeda Galaxy will have collided with the Milky Way, which will thereafter merge to form a galaxy dubbed ‘Milkomeda’. The planets of the Solar System are expected to be relatively unaffected by this collision. While the Andromeda Galaxy contains about 1 trillion (1012) stars and the Milky Way contains about 300 billion (3×1011), the chance of even two stars colliding is negligible, because of the huge distances between the stars.

5 billion YFN: With the hydrogen supply exhausted at its core, the Sun begins to evolve into a red giant.

Scorched Earth
Conjectured illustration of the scorched Earth after the Sun has entered the red giant phase, 7 billion years from now

7.59 billion YFN: The Earth and Moon are very likely destroyed by falling into the Sun, just before the Sun reaches the tip of its red giant phase and its maximum radius of 256 times the present day value. Before the final collision, the Moon possibly breaks into a ring of debris, most of which falls to the Earth’s surface.

7.9 billion YFN: The Sun reaches the tip of its red-giant phase, achieving its maximum radius of 256 times the present day value. In the process, Mercury, Venus and very likely the Earth are destroyed.

During these times, it is possible that Saturn’s moon Titan could achieve surface temperatures necessary to support life.

Sun glinting off Titan
This near-infrared, color mosaic from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft shows the Sun glinting off of Titan’s north polar seas, composed of liquid methane

8 billion YFN: The Sun becomes a carbon-oxygen white dwarf, with about 54,05 percent its present mass.

100 billion YFN: The Universe’s expansion causes all galaxies beyond the Milky Way’s Local Group to disappear beyond the cosmic light horizon, removing them from the observable universe.

1 trillion YFN: Low estimate for the time until star formation ends in galaxies, as galaxies are depleted of the gas clouds they need to form stars.

100 trillion YFN: High estimate for the time until normal star formation ends in galaxies. This marks the transition from the Stelliferous Era to the Degenerate Era. With no free hydrogen to form new stars, all remaining stars slowly exhaust their fuel and die.

110–120 trillion YFN: Time by which all stars in the universe will have exhausted their fuel.

1 quadrillion = 10 to the 15th YFN: By this point the Sun will have cooled to five degrees above absolute zero.

1010 10 56 

years from now: Estimated time for random quantum fluctuations to generate a new Big Bang.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the posting of the Timeline of the far future, and to Jaime & Jolene’s ‘From quarks to quasars’ for the next three Timelines of the future as well

Timeline of the Future

1 Billion Years

10 Billion Years

ShantiShanti is a regular contributor
All essays of this series can be found in: At Home in the Universe
All articles by this author on Osho News