Located approximately 150 million kilometres from Earth is our closest star; we call this fiery behemoth, Sun.
According to my own schoolboy knowledge Earth’s Sun is composed primarily of hydrogen gas – sources go on to say it is exactly 73.46% hydrogen – and (explanation for knowing the precise consistency of such a far off entity notwithstanding) if there’s one thing we ought to remember about hydrogen through the Hindenburg calamity or, more to the point schoolboy chemistry experiments, it’s that hydrogen gas is mightily flammable, or inflammable, I forget.
This explains the heat but there is one area that while the majority appear to be in acceptance, I am certain there are still a great many people who have posed the question: who is stoking the fire; how is it being stoked? Who, in God’s name, is keeping up the fuel supply to this seemingly insatiable inferno?
This week’s theory therefore pertains to the total opposite of what readers surely expected I was going assert: I do not believe, even with its apparent shortage of winter stock in the woodshed, that the Sun, our Sun, will ever burn out.
While it is a fact that this star is essentially aflame without its fuel source ever needing replenishing, this does not mean that one day it will simply run out of combustible material.
The issue with our feeble human minds is, in a word, comprehension. Most of us will struggle to comprehend something as infinitely expansive as the Universe simply because we have never needed to visualise anything so utterly vast; even to comprehend the sheer mass of one of the stars inhabiting that Universe, while of course some of us probably think we can, for our tiny human brains, is somewhere close to impossible…
As mentioned in a previous post – I think Theory III – given that our Universe comprises millions of Suns all with the potential to propagate life on other planets, of which there must be millions more in orbit of each of those Suns, the chances of life existing somewhere other than planet Earth are in fact extremely likely. (I feel that digression was just about as pointless as it was entertaining.)
…The fact that our Sun burns around four billion kilograms of mass per second is, oddly, inconsequential – although when we cast our minds back to Einstein’s E=mc2 formula and realise that Energy is directly related to Mass multiplied by the Constant speed of light inside a vacuum squared, we understand that to burn so much mass is to indubitably create a whole lot of energy – in that this is an entity of such unimaginable hugeness that to burn even the aforementioned amount of mass actually has no noticeable effect on either its size, its gravitational pull or thankfully, its ability to further produce energy.
Even with nothing to top up its reserves, at its current rate of ‘evaporation’ our Sun would take an estimated fourteen trillion years to burn through its stores; now if we consider that the Universe is said to be only twelve billion years old…
Take into account furthermore that people have only been aware of the Sun’s existence for a shade over two thousand years – the revelation that we orbit it rather than it orbiting us coming even more recently – and we see that this is a mere iota of its projected lifespan.
…Fear not, good people: I therefore theorise that the human race will annihilate itself long before our Sun gives up on us.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Sonny Day
Photography by Dee Ark Knight