Looking at the entire universe, human beings are so lucky that the planet we live in may be the only planet in existence. The sun is in its prime, and the distance between the earth and the sun is just right, so that there is a good environment for life.
However, with the gradual reduction of solar fuel, it has already passed half of its youth. After another 5 billion years, the sun will end its last breath. After the supernova explodes, it leaves a dead body – a dense white dwarf.
In order to continue life, mankind must come up with some ideas. So, can we extend the life of the sun by billions of years or even trillions of years?
Option 1: Add fuel
The sun is mainly composed of hydrogen and helium, and hydrogen is aggregated into helium under the high temperature and high pressure of the solar core, and releases energy. If the sun is running out of fuel, let’s add some more! The solar system has four gas giants whose main components are hydrogen. Maybe we can throw them into the sun?
In fact, this idea is counterproductive in extending the life of the sun. Although throwing these gas planets into the sun will provide more fuel, the extra mass will increase the gravitational pressure inside the sun, and the gravitational contraction will release the energy, resulting in higher core temperatures and faster burning rates. The life of the sun. If we throw all the gas planets into the sun, its life will be shortened by about 30 million years. Of course, the more mass you put in the sun, the shorter the life of the sun.
Option 2: Reduce fuel
If increasing the quality will reduce the life of the sun, then maybe we can do the opposite to extend its lifespan – find a way to suck away all the cockroaches and most of the hydrogen in the sun.
The smaller the mass of the star, the longer the life. Red dwarfs are the most abundant types of stars in the universe. Their mass is very small, and the maximum is no more than half of the mass of the sun, because the nuclear fusion reaction is mild and the life is relatively long. The life expectancy of the smallest red dwarf is more than 5 trillion years old, which is more than 350 times the age of the universe. If we turn the quality of the sun into the quality of a red dwarf, in theory, it can survive for trillions of years.
However, this solution has several problems. First of all, the sun has less infrared radiation and less light, and the livable belt is much closer to the sun. Therefore, we need to bring the earth closer to the sun. However, even if we can find a way to do this, planets that are too close to the stars are easily locked by the tides. In the process, the planets can only face the red dwarfs. This phenomenon may turn one side of the earth into a scorched wasteland and the other side into a barren tundra. In addition, the red dwarf’s solar flare is very strong. Because the internal nuclear fusion activity is relatively small, its surface is relatively cold, resulting in surface activity is not strong, the heat generated inside it is not easy to reach the surface, must find a breakthrough to erupt. On a certain time scale, the red dwarf will behave like a volcanic eruption, and the earth’s magnetic field will not help us avoid devastating blows. Therefore, shrinking the sun too small may not be a good idea.
However, if we only extract 20% of the sun’s mass so that it is just below the lower limit of the G-type star (the mass is between 0.8 and 1.2 solar masses), we can avoid the tidal lock and the deadly flare problem, while at the same time the life of the sun. Extending 600 million years. By then, Venus will be in the habitable zone of the solar system, and the life of the earth needs to be transferred there. However, just extending the life of the sun for 600 million years may not be worth the trouble.
Option 3: 氦 change back to hydrogen
In the inner core of the sun, hydrogen is constantly gathering into cockroaches, until one day, hydrogen is exhausted, and the sun is almost entirely composed of cockroaches. Since we can’t increase the quality and we can’t reduce the quality, then if we ourselves split the sun’s cockroaches into hydrogen, let it survive indefinitely?
The fusion of the solar core is controlled by the proton-proton chain. Six hydrogen atoms (protons) undergo a series of steps to form a 氦4 atom (2 protons and 2 neutrons) and two “new” protons. . If we split 氦 4 atoms, free neutrons will rapidly decay into protons and electrons, and we return to the beginning of the fusion reaction (ie, 6 protons). If you can find a way to split the center of the sun by 4 atoms, the sun can always undergo proton and proton fusion.
However, in the case of the same mass, the energy produced by hydrogen nuclear fusion is not enough for the energy required for nuclear fission, which is also the reason why the solar center reaction is irreversible. The energy required to break the confinement between particles in the same mass of helium nuclei is 6% higher than the energy released by the same mass of hydrogen nuclear fusion reaction, which means that even if we use all the solar energy generated by hydrogen nuclear fusion for splitting The rate of sputum production will still be slightly faster than the speed of 氦 splitting, and it will continue to accumulate. Therefore, if this method can be achieved, the life of the sun can be extended by about 1 trillion years instead of continuing indefinitely.
One billion years is a long time. We don’t know the extent to which technology will progress in such a time scale, or what humans will look like, and maybe we will eventually have the ability to prolong the life of the sun. Probably only time will be able to answer everything for us. However, in order to continue the wisdom of life and the culture of the planet, we must continue to explore the unknown with questions and imagination.