The Sun Will Look A Lot Like This When It Burns Out

In about a billion years the Sun will be too hot and bright for water to exist on Earth. We will probably mosey on to somewhere else in the universe at that point or just perish. But if we're still alive and somewhere in the neighbourhood when the Sun runs out of hydrogen and becomes a red giant we can observe it looking something like this.

The hazy cloud above is planetary nebula IC 289, located in the Cassiopeia constellation. It's called a planetary nebula because when telescopes were less powerful astronomers thought they were observing gaseous planets orbiting a star.

Actually the region is simply occupied by the cloud of ionised gas and dust that was released from the star in the middle when it collapsed. That's the way to go out kicking and screaming. [Hubble Picture of the Week]

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