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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 28 March, 2020

Astronomy Ireland lecture asks: what happens when the Sun dies?

Longing for a lecture on how your home planet is going to be consumed by a fiery ball of apocalyptic hell? Well, you’re in luck…

Thankfully, the Earth will likely be abandoned by the time the sun expands and grows into a Red Giant.
Thankfully, the Earth will likely be abandoned by the time the sun expands and grows into a Red Giant.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

IT ACCOUNTS for the majority of energy on the planet. Its appearance changes the mood of many, but overexposure has horrific consequences of many sorts.

And yet, some day, it will simply not be around any more – and its death will kill the rest of us too.

Yes, at some point, the sun – the very thing that defines our concept of time itself – will burn out, and almost certainly (unless we’ve managed to evacuate the planet and head elsewhere) end the existence of our species.

And, if the thought of your descendants being burnt alive in a gargantuan fiery explosion is the sort of thing you like to spend your evenings hearing about, you’re in luck: there’s a public lecture on it tonight.

Dr Gareth Murphy, one of Ireland’s top astrophysicists, will this evening give a lecture for Astronomy Ireland which will explore how a star is born, lives and dies.

Astronomy Ireland’s David Moore said stellar evolution was one of the more amazing aspects of astronomy, but that the field was not well-known because of the massive lengths of time involved.

“When we look outside at night, we imagine the stars to be still and unchanging, but this is completely against the reality,” Moore said. “The life of a star is really a rollercoaster ride that can sometimes result in extremely violent ends, with huge explosions and black holes.”

Mr Murphy’s lecture, which will be held in the Fitzgerald Building at Trinity College, kicks off at 8pm. Tickets are €7, or €5 for Astronomy Ireland members. It’ll also be available on DVD for €7, plus €5 postage and packaging, afterward.

Those looking for a spoiler alert can check out the following video. There’s good news and bad: we won’t be killed by a supernova (the sun isn’t big enough to cause one), but it’s going to be hot. Very hot.

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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