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Will the Sun Explode?

First, there’s no possible way that the Sun will ever explode. It might seem huge to us, but the Sun is a relatively low mass star compared to some of the enormous high mass stars out there in the Universe. When our Sun runs out of hydrogen fuel, it will expand up as a red giant, puff off its outer layers, and then settle down as a compact white dwarf star; slowly cooling down for trillions of years.

But let’s say that our Sun has about 10 times as much mass. Now we’re talking explosion. When this super massive Sun runs out of hydrogen fuel in its core, it switches over to converting atoms of helium, and then atoms of carbon. It keeps consuming heavier and heavier fuel in concentric layers, like an onion. Each layer takes a shorter period of time, all the way up to nickel, which might take a mere day to burn through.

Then iron starts to build up in the core of the star. And iron doesn’t give off any energy when it undergoes nuclear fusion. Because of this, the star has no more outward pressure in its core stopping it from collapsing inward. When about 1.38 times the mass of the Sun in iron collects at the core, it catastrophically implodes, releasing an enormous amount of energy.

Within 8 minutes, the amount of time it takes for light to travel from the Sun to Earth, an incomprehensible amount of energy would sweep past the Earth, and destroy everything in the Solar System. Supernovae can briefly shine more than an entire galaxy. A new nebula, like the Crab Nebula, would be visible to nearby star systems, expanding outward for thousands of years.

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