The atmosphere on our planet, the distance to the sun, and many other incredible coincidences have led to the fact that life on Earth can exist as we know it.
All this is perceived by us as a given, and we, rushing to work or relaxing at a table in a cafe, do not find anything surprising in our existence.
But all good things come to an end. One day the Earth will become unusable to sustain the life we know.
Maybe this will not happen for millions of years. But astrophysics tells us that a catastrophe can happen at any moment.
And scientists have found many reasons why the Earth can become lifeless.
1) The core of the planet will cool down
The earth is surrounded by a magnetic field called the magnetosphere, which protects us from the solar wind.
This field is created by the rotation of the planet, due to which the liquid iron-nickel shell (outer core) moves around the solid metal core (inner core), forming a giant magnetic generator.
The magnetosphere deflects energy particles emitted by the sun, changing their size and shape.
If the planet’s core cools down, then we will lose our magnetosphere – as well as protection from the solar wind, because of which it will gradually spread the Earth’s atmosphere throughout space.
Mars, which once had water and an atmosphere, suffered just such a fate several million years ago, and it turned into the dry and lifeless world as we know it now.
2) The Sun will expand
The sun, and especially our distance to it, is perhaps the most important factor that made life possible.
However, the Sun is a star. And the stars are dying.
Right now, the Sun is in the middle of its life, constantly converting hydrogen to helium through thermonuclear reactions.
But this cannot last forever. In a few billion years, the hydrogen in the Sun’s core will run out, and it will begin to process helium.
Due to the fact that the processing of helium gives much more energy, the Sun will begin to expand, and, possibly, pull the Earth towards itself.
We will burn and evaporate.
Either that, or the expansion of the sun opposite, will push the Earth away, it will leave its orbit and will be doomed to wander through space like a wanderer planet – a dead piece of cold stone.
3) Earth will collide with a wanderer planet
There are many planets in space that move freely around it and do not revolve around the star. Planets are often thrown out of their star systems during their formation.
Recent calculations show that the number of wandering planets in the Milky Way exceeds the number of stars by 100,000 times.
One of these planets could approach the Earth and dangerously destabilize its orbit.
Or a roaming planet could collide with Earth. And this has already happened – about 4.5 million years ago, a small planet collided with a larger one, which formed the Earth and the Moon as we know them.
4) Earth will collide with an asteroid
Hollywood is very fond of such scenarios.
Stones from space can be very destructive – one of them destroyed dinosaurs. Although, of course, in order to completely destroy the planet, many more asteroids are needed.
But it can still happen. For example, over the hundreds of millions of years since the formation of the Earth, asteroids collided with it very often. The blows were so strong that the oceans boiled for years and the air temperature was over 500 degrees Celsius. Life on Earth was then unicellular, and was represented in the form of especially heat-resistant microbes. Most modern life forms would not tolerate this.
5) Earth may approach a wandering black hole
Black holes are perhaps the second most popular cause of death in Hollywood. It’s easy to see why.
They are mysterious and frightening. Even their very name sounds creepy.
We know little about black holes, but we do know that they are so massive that even light cannot escape beyond their event horizon.
Scientists also know that there are black holes that freely travel through space. So it is possible that one of them can visit the solar system.
If light cannot escape from the black hole, then the Earth certainly cannot. There are two theories of what happens to a planet after it crosses the point of no return of a sufficiently large black hole. A smaller one will simply stretch (as astrophysicists say, “spaghettize”) the planet.
Some physicists say that beyond the event horizon, atoms will stretch until they are completely destroyed.
Others – that we will find ourselves in another part of the universe, or even in another dimension.
But, even if the black hole does not pull the Earth into itself, then after passing close enough, it can cause earthquakes and other natural disasters or disrupt the orbit of the planet, so that we either leave the solar system or fall into the Sun.
6) Earth will be destroyed by a burst of gamma radiation
Gamma-ray bursts (or simply gamma-ray bursts) are some of the most powerful phenomena in the universe.
Many of them are the result of the collapse of the star at the time of its death. One short burst can contain more energy than the Sun can generate in its entire life.
Such a powerful flow of energy can deprive the Earth of the ozone layer, making us defenseless against dangerous ultraviolet radiation, and trigger the mechanism of a rapid global cooling.
A gamma-ray burst that hit the Earth 440 million years ago could be the cause of the first mass extinction.
But fortunately, David Thompson, deputy project manager for gamma-ray observation, said that gamma-ray bursts are actually not very dangerous.
He said that the chance of the Earth being caught in a gamma-ray burst stream is roughly equal to “the chance that I will meet a polar bear in my toilet.”
7) the Universe will fall apart in its last “Big Rip”
This is something that can destroy the entire universe, not just the Earth.
The bottom line is this: an unknown force called dark energy is causing the universe to expand faster and faster.
If the expansion continues (which is very possible), after 22 billion years, interatomic bonds will weaken, and all matter in the universe will gradually dissipate in the form of energy.
But if we assume that the Great Rip still will not happen, then what can happen after a global catastrophe that humanity will not survive?
It is possible that some microbes will survive, from which life will then develop again.
But if the destruction is absolute, then, in extreme cases, we can hope that somewhere in the universe there is another intelligent life that can give us the last honors.