“Through that last dark cloud is a dying star… And when it explodes, it will be reborn. You will bloom… and I will live.” -The Fountain

I want to start off by letting you all know that I, myself, do not have any children of my own. I have taught children, adolescents and adults for nearly a full generation now in varying capacities, and while each learner is different, there’s one science fact that universally seems to shatter each and every one of them.

Image credit: the bloggers at Dear Kugluktuk.

The fact that the Sun, our Sun, the bringer of warmth, light, energy, and the sustaining force of all life on this planet, isn’t going to shine forever. Quite to the contrary, someday, the Sun will die in a fiery, catastrophic explosion, one which will quite possibly obliterate our entire planet, and then eventually cease to shine at all.

Image credit: L.Calcada / ESO.

Being faced with not only our own mortality, but the demise of literally everything we’ve ever encountered throughout the entire history of our world is a philosophical and existential challenge for even well-adjusted adults. But I was a bit taken aback when I received this question from one of my most loyal readers:

I need a good explanation for a third grader, whose Mom tells me is deeply concerned, that the sun will blow up.

I sympathize with parents in this position, because on the one hand, you want to tell the truth to your children. You want to expose them to our most accurate understanding of reality, to have them learn and appreciate knowledge, science, and using their minds.

But you not only want to do that with kindness, compassion, and optimism, you also don’t want your kid having night terrors and years of therapy because you told them the gory details of, literally, the end of the world.

Image credit: Brian Smallwood.

There is, perhaps, a wrong way to go about this. As the comedian Louis C.K. once said,

She started crying immediately, crying bitter tears for the death of all humanity… and now she knows all of those things: she’s gonna die, everybody she knows is gonna die, they’re gonna be dead for a very long time, and then the sun’s gonna explode. She learned that all in 12 seconds, at the age of seven.

That’s one approach, but maybe not the one I would choose if I were going to put some thought into it. You see, there’s a remarkable story to be told, and if I were in elementary school, it just might be the most wonderful thing I had ever heard at that point in my life. Here’s what I would tell a child.

Image credit: Hana Druckmullerova, Ušpice Observatory, and Miloslav Druckmuller.

The Sun that you know, the brightest thing in the sky, is no more special than any other star in the sky. Even during the day, there are thousands of stars in the sky. You’d be able to see them, too, except that our star, the Sun, is so close to us that its brightness makes all the other stars invisible, except at night.

Image credit: Tony Hallas, retrieved from APOD.

These stars, each and every one of them, live much, much longer than anything on Earth has ever lived. While some plants and animals can live for thousands of years, the stars all live, burning brightly, for millions, billions, or even trillions of years.

That’s a very, very long time! But it isn’t forever, and believe it or not, we’re lucky that it isn’t forever.

Image credit: Oliverbeatson at wikipedia.

Because if the stars never died, if they never exploded, and if they never blew up, we wouldn’t be here, talking to each other, right now. And I’m so glad that we are, because you get to learn one of the most amazing secrets about life, and I get to teach it to you.

Image credit: Ed Uthman.

The secret is that practically everything that makes up you, me, and the entire planet — the tiniest parts of everything we’ve ever known — they were all made inside a star.

But it’s too hot for you and me inside a star. In order to make Earth, and you, and me, all the good things that the stars make need to get out, so they can make something new. And how does that happen?

Video credit: ESA/NASA, retrieved here.

Why, they explode. And the insides of the star, the things that it made while it was alive, you know what they do?

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (SSC).

The old insides from those stars make planets, like Earth, and — because we’re very lucky — some of those insides make up us, too.

The stars of the past died so that you could be here, and someday, a long time from now, our Sun will return the favor, and help make more new planets, new worlds, and new chances for life.

Image credit: ESA, NASA, and L. Calcada (ESO for STScI).

So yes, the Sun will blow up, someday, but when it does, that’s the greatest gift any star can ever hope to give to the Universe. After all, it took billions of stars giving that gift already in order to make you. And you know what?

It was worth it.


  1. #1 John-117
    April 26, 2012

    This article is incorrect. The author has been misinformed. The sun is not going to explode. Our sun is not big enough to super nova. It will expand into a red giant and then will collapse into white dwarf. It will then fade away quietly into a black dwarf over an incredible amount of time..

  2. #2 Ethan Siegel
    April 26, 2012

    John-117, you are correct. The Sun is not big enough to supernova, it will expand into a red giant and end up as a white dwarf.

    But what you miss is that in-between being a red giant and becoming a white dwarf, it blows off roughly half of its mass into a pre-planetary and then a planetary nebula, spewing its enriched gases light years across space. If you want to claim that isn’t an “explosion” or “blowing up” that is your right, but I am not losing any sleep by glossing over that detail for a third grader.

  3. #3 Derek
    April 26, 2012

    This is not a “detail” to be glossed over – it is simply not true. Calling the death of sun sized stars an explosion is misleading and a gross oversimplification. Why confuse and scare children when no physicist or cosmologist would agree with your characterization?

  4. #4 Jockaira
    April 26, 2012

    Thanks for stating this in a form easily understood by children, a form giving them the true form of the universe and the part that each of us plays out in our lives and destinies.

    When I was a child, it was not yet understood about nuclear synthesis of the elements in the core of a star and in the maelstrom of a nova. It WAS understood that nothing lasts forever, even the sun. I was crushed by the sure knowledge that the sun, the earth, and all the people on it would die and not be remembered by anyone. Intellectually I knew that this wouldn’t happen for several millions of years, but that didn’t matter…what child can imagine a million years when he can’t even imagine a year from now?

    It’s so nice that the death of a star and even of an entire race would be the precursor of other worlds and other races. Most especially, it’s nice that I don’t ever have to worry about this happening in my lifetime or the lifetime of anyone I know or could ever know.

    Life Is Good!

  5. #5 Tim LaDuca
    April 26, 2012

    “The fact that the Sun, our Sun, the bringer of warmth, light, energy, and the sustaining force of all life on this planet, isn’t going to shine forever.” That is not a complete sentence. I agree with the other comment, it is ridiculous and just plain wrong to assert the sun is going to explode. It will relatively gently blow off much of it’s atmosphere and whether these gases ever recombine to form another star is highly uncertain. The sun will absolutely not die in “a fiery catostrophic explosion”. Do you think the sun is going to go supernova?! Junk science. Furthermore as the sun sheds mass the orbit of the earth will expand and it is not currently known if it will be obliterated by the expanding atmosphere of the sun. Take a break from teaching if you are just going to confront children with bad science.

  6. #6 Nemo
    April 26, 2012

    There’s no reason for the death of the Sun to mean the death of our descendants. One short-term solution would be to move to the vicinity of a red dwarf, where we might extend our tenure to a few trillion years. We have a few hundred million years to get our act together to that end; that should be enough.

  7. #7 OKThen
    April 26, 2012

    Yes Ethan. Yes the details is it or is it not an explosion are unimportant.

    Truthfully, I’ve never heard of any adult or child being upset about the sun dying; but I accept such fears.

    All children’s fears need to be explained at a child’s level of emotional understanding. As well the scientifically correct answer needs to be explained at a child’s level of understanding.

    Good post.

  8. #8 Artor
    April 26, 2012

    I’m amused by the commenters who seem to think a common, non-super-nova is a peaceful, non-explosive event. Just because our friend Sol isn’t going to out-shine the rest of the galaxy some day, it’s going to drift calmly, quietly into the long dark night? I’d think that blowing off half it’s mass into a light-years-wide planetary nebula would count as a fiery, catastrophic explosion, even by James Cameron’s standards.
    It’s also funny that John-117 thinks you have been “misinformed.” Apparently, talking down to a third-grader is still too steep for some people. Do you think you could restate this article to talk down to internet commenters? That seems to be a much lower bar.

  9. #9 joemac53
    April 26, 2012

    “We are all made of star-stuff.” Don’t know who to credit for that one, but it sounds like Sagan. I felt really important when I learned this as a youngster. (about when I learned the mnemonic for star classes Oh Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me (Now!)).
    Thanks for the post.

  10. #10 Stephen
    April 26, 2012

    So, the Sun expands to a Red Giant about the size of the Earth’s orbit. And the standard answer there is that the Earth is toast.

    Except, we’re on it. We already have enough physics to move the Earth to a wider orbit, saving it. We take orbital energy from Jupiter using an asteroid in a funky figure 8 orbit for transfer. We’ll soon have the engineering to pull it off. Calculations suggest that we have time to make it happen while the Sun heats up. While we’re at it, we can save Venus. And when the Sun shrinks into a white dwarf phase, we can reverse the process and get another, what is it?, ten trillion years of comfy use out of the Earth, for a modest amount of upkeep.

    The Sun doesn’t explode. It’s an increase in the solar wind. But it leaves behind a pretty planetary nebula for maybe ten thousand years. We probably won’t see it, but our descendants orbiting other stars might. That’s what you tell a 3rd grader. Even much older kids are alarmed. Look at Yahoo!Answers if you need evidence.

  11. #11 Composer99
    April 26, 2012

    In his reply to John-117, Ethan notes:

    But what you miss is that in-between being a red giant and becoming a white dwarf, it blows off roughly half of its mass into a pre-planetary and then a planetary nebula, spewing its enriched gases light years across space.

    Restating Artor’s point, IMO anyone thinking this process isn’t enormously powerful and explosive – indeed, fiery and catastrophic – by human standards is IMO the one who is misinformed.

  12. #12 Derek
    April 26, 2012

    Really Artor? No one claimed the death of a star is peaceful, whatever that means. The comment suggesting the sun will “fade away quietly” in it’s final evolutionary stage is correct.

    Why is it so hard to understand that some stars explode (supernovae) and some don’t?
    You wouldn’t lump these two distinct classes of stars together in a class for adults, so why do it for kids, some of which find it scary? It defies logic.
    1. Children find the concept of an “exploding sun ” frightening.
    2. No physicist would agree with this characterization.

    Given these facts it is absurd to teach kids this as though it were fact. I would also argue that it is plainly wrong and poor education, but that is largely irrelevant.

  13. #13 gaebolga
    April 26, 2012

    So, sidestepping the discussion of what qualifies as “explosive,” I’m going to cop to screwing this one up with my son.

    When he was five and just starting to wonder about death, my son asked me if the Earth was going to die. Like an idiot, I told him that the Sun would grow into a red giant in about 5 billion years and that when it did, it would either consume the Earth entirely or just burn it into slag.

    That evening, I learned that five-year-olds don’t do “billions” – especially when applied to years. Four years later, he still gets occasional nightmares about it.

    Epic Dad fail.

    I’m going to try your approach when my daughter asks about this….

  14. #14 Radu
    April 26, 2012

    I loved Isaac Asimov’s short story, The Last Question. Really, when describing things to a third grader you really can’t help yourself but lie. You have to lie in order for him to feel significant in the Universe. Otherwise, you can’t just tell him his life is unimportant, irrelevant, that not just him but all people on Earth will die one day – and not only that, but the most astounding fact: that the Universe itself will irrecoverably die one day due to the loss of all usable energy. If it is so, why have children in the first place? You see, there is no point in giving a correct explanation here. The point is to make that child feel significant, needed, wanted. Talking about the end of the world is not a proper way to do this.

    Sure we were all born through the inner workings of the stars but this really is not so special. The whole Universe was born by tiny particle fluctuations – care to describe THAT to a third grader? There’s nothing special to describe about life because it just dies. And humans? Oh, we just die so soon. Think of the trees, or some strange insects which live hundreds of years. Think of the Universe which lives for billions of years. OK, rant over. Don’t take all I’ve said too seriously :) This is all my mind can produce at 10 PM :)

  15. #15 gliss
    April 26, 2012

    Can a planet orbiting a White Dwarf support life? Is there a Goldilocks zone around a white dwarf?

  16. #16 Birger Johansson
    April 26, 2012

    Gliss: No, any planet close enough to the white dwarf would be destroyed during the preceding red giant phase.

    But let us assume a planet was safely injected in an orbit around a white dwarf. To get enough energy it would have to be so close that stellar tidal forces quickly locked the rotation, with one side permanently in daylight while the other side plummets towards absolute zero, freezing out the atmosphere.

  17. #17 Raven
    April 26, 2012

    Ethan, when you make this post into a children’s book, I will buy a copy. I hope it’s soon!

  18. #18 Michael Richmond
    April 26, 2012

    Ethan — just change “explosion” to “deflagration” in your statement, like this:

    ” … the Sun will die in a fiery, catastrophic, deflagration”

    and we’ll all be happy.

  19. #19 Grizzled Adams
    April 26, 2012

    I grok everything you write, thank you for the truth. But it must be a real son-of-a-bitch to type with those fingernails….


  20. #20 Brandon
    April 26, 2012

    Thanks for this article, bud. It’s a good way to talk about the distant future to people who are leaving a traditional religion, too.

  21. #21 JamesM
    April 26, 2012

    I was the one to tell my mother that the sun will explode some day, rather than shine forever. I’m not entirely sure how she took the good news?

    Technically, though, the sun explodes all the time. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t shine. That being said, the sun doesn’t need to explode all at once to kill you. You only need too much sunshine, or too little, and it will be the death of you.

  22. #22 Dark Jaguar
    April 26, 2012

    So our home is going to catch fire at some point. Okay, who’s up for preparing to move?

    No seriously, if we’re arrogant enough to assume humanity will still be around by the time it gets too hot for life to exist on Earth, let’s be hopeful enough to assume that in a few million years humans will figure out a way to survive a ways out from Earth and not mourn the loss of one star too much.

  23. #23 Dan
    April 27, 2012

    Very nice post. Many Thanks.
    I know that is not possible,I would like all of your posts
    to be as simple as this one.


  24. #24 Dunc
    April 27, 2012

    No physicist would agree with this characterization.

    Absolutely wrong. A physicist wrote it, for one thing. Yes, there are different degrees of explosion, but to suggest that anything short of a supernova doesn’t count is completely absurd. I would expect that far more physicists would agree with Ethan on this point than would agree with you.

  25. #25 Wow
    April 27, 2012

    “Otherwise, you can’t just tell him his life is unimportant, irrelevant, that not just him but all people on Earth will die one day”

    This doesn’t follow on.

    I can’t remember who wrote/said it, but someone said that if life has no purpose and no meaning then all the meaning of life is what we put into it.

    When everything is unimportant then everything is equally important.

  26. #26 David Marjanović
    April 27, 2012

    Just make clear that stars don’t literally live.

    The point is to make that child feel significant, needed, wanted.

    To/by you, not the universe as a whole!

  27. #27 Wow
    April 27, 2012

    > To/by you, not the universe as a whole!

    To themselves! Every iota of worth they have in their lives is the worth of the actions they put into it.

    They are the sole captain of their soul, the only one to make their lives worthy, and nobody else can do more than lay out a map of their own travels as merely suggestions of how the child themselves pilot their own course.

  28. #28 Wow
    April 27, 2012

    “”We are all made of star-stuff.” Don’t know who to credit for that one, but it sounds like Sagan.”

    That was the first time I’d heard it (Cosmos), though I’d only remembered it when Babylon 5 had Delenn say it.

    “(about when I learned the mnemonic for star classes Oh Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me (Now!)).”

    I believe, if you’re going to include the branches (the Now! one is on one), then you’d use:

    Oh, Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me Right Now (Smack!)

  29. #29 Sandy Forman
    April 27, 2012

    Just stumbled onto your website…really enjoyed your writing. Just wanted to say thanks.Nice hands! You must be hell in bed!


  30. #30 Dave Dell
    April 27, 2012

    I find myself bemused. I recall a 4th grade class studying the solar system, planets, stars, speed of light, etc. Basic stuff. It was my first introduction to the life cycle of stars. The thought that in some billions of years our star, or as we thought of it – THE SUN, would explode was merely another interesting fact, nothing to get excited about. Too far in the future to cause concern.

    Where does all this trauma come from?

  31. #31 Joe Thornton
    April 27, 2012

    “We are stardust, we are golden” Joni Mitchell, Woodstock.

  32. #32 Wow
    April 27, 2012

    > Where does all this trauma come from?

    6 billion people.

    A one-in-a-million chance happens 6 thousand times.

  33. #33 Pronghorn
    April 27, 2012

    Why tell a child this? It is useless information that the Sun will die a gazillion years after the child dies.

  34. #34 ZombiMommi
    April 27, 2012

    The ultimate Pay-It-Forward:
    “So yes, the Sun will blow up, someday, but when it does, that’s the greatest gift any star can ever hope to give to the Universe.”

  35. #35 Scott Vachalek
    April 27, 2012

    So have you heard the old analogy about if the history of Earth was a day, humans would have only been around for a few seconds? Well, we’re talking about an event at midnight TOMORROW.

    In the good ending (as much as my primitive 21st century brain can manage) the Earth has been sitting in a museum for billions of years and has produced a handful of other intelligent species as well as countless other lifeforms we can’t imagine. Upon seeing the Sun’s new status as a giant, Earthlings from countless new worlds will raise a glass in gratitude for its billions of years of service to our species, in recognition of its crowning achievements now, and in congratulations for finally qualifying for a long, comfortable retirement.

    In the bad ending we’ll have blown up in a much more intentional explosion before Earth’s second half has barely started. But you can leave that one out of the seven year old edition.

  36. #36 area504
    April 27, 2012

    Is there ANYONE here who believes in God? Not saying science isn’t important, but all science is possible through God’s creation.

    Try and have a little faith. He’s bigger than all of us, bigger than the Sun even. Whatever happens, happens for a reason.

    If the Sun exploded tomorrow, I will still be saved.

  37. #37 Waytonan
    April 27, 2012

    “So yes, the Sun will blow up, someday, but when it does, that’s the greatest gift any star can ever hope to give to the Universe. After all, it took billions of stars giving that gift already in order to make you. And you know what?

    It was worth it.”

    Well, one day, a very very long time from now, the last star will die. All life will end forever, and that will be it. It won’t not be worth it, but it won’t be worth it either. It just won’t matter. No satisfaction or regrets for anyone or anything. (Hence why so many people want an eternal multiverse to be true, even though at the moment the evidence just is not there for it to exist.)

    This is of course independent from any spiritual beliefs someone may have, which could make it worth it, but in that area for this post I am remaining neutral.

  38. #38 john werneken
    April 27, 2012

    The author is clearly an educator and IMHO (I have kids grandkids great-grandkids so if I am wrong it’s not from total unfamiliarity lol)DOES know how to approach kids with potentially terrifying thoughts.

  39. #39 Mike
    April 27, 2012

    Thanks for another great post, Ethan. Putting something as complex as stellar physics into language that a child can understand isn’t easy. There are some concepts they just aren’t clear on, so putting it into terms they can understand makes sense. It’s kind of like physics itself. The more you understand, the more complex your explanations can become.

    Just, honestly, sad to see a couple of trolls here.

    Seriously, guys. Ethan knows of what he speaks. Just sad you can’t understand adjusting the details of a message to the audience in question.

    Hint: To a third grader, the difference between a Nova and Supernova are irrelevant. At that age, it’s just one huge-mungeous Fwakoom! Get over yourself.

  40. #40 CB
    April 27, 2012

    @ Derek
    “Why is it so hard to understand that some stars explode (supernovae) and some don’t?”

    The part where you equate “explosion” with “supernova — and only supernova”.

    Supernova are explosions. Not all explosions are supernova. Why is that so hard to understand?

  41. #41 Rohan
    April 27, 2012

    Already building my bunker…

  42. #42 Rich
    April 27, 2012

    You can add that we might be one of many (infinite?) universes where we are doing many different things. Also, like the end of a star’s life which gives rise to new stars, the end of our universe might give rise to another universe. True or not, I find that more positive. Life and the universe go on…

  43. #43 Judi
    April 27, 2012

    Lovely and kind are you. Thank you.

  44. #44 Rich
    April 27, 2012

    I’m a parent and a science teacher of 43 years who believes in God. One of my favorite Einstein quotes is that God does not play dice with the universe. I tell my students that if you love to argue, that’s what scientists do (as these posts show). We are blind humans each touching the elephant in different places and loudly arguing with each other about what the elephant really is: a rope, a wall, a tree trunk, a fan, a spear, a snake, …

  45. #45 Artor
    April 27, 2012

    @ area504 #36
    Show me some evidence for a god that can’t be explained by science, and I might start believing. Then you can try to explain why it only proves YOUR god, and not the thousands of other ones. The only reasons to believe in god are bad reasons.

  46. #46 Rich
    April 27, 2012

    Like the blind men and the elephant, you and I can argue all day about whether there is a God or not. The blind men analogy could include someone who is not touching the elephant. He says that there is no elephant. You choose not to believe. Based upon my experiences, I choose to believe. My reasons for believing in God are good ones.

  47. #47 Christopher Doherty
    April 28, 2012

    I was going to say that the obvious consolation for this is in religion, especially one in which the world is not the be-all end-all, but the last few comments about religion ruined it.

    But seriously, I do have kids, and we’re just reaching the points in their education where this will come up. I like to think they’re pretty well-adjusted. We’ve talked about death. It’s kind of matter-of-fact. The death of the solar system might phase them a little, but not to the point of despair.

    I do like pointing out that the elements we’re made of were born in stars, and that we’re fundamentally part of this universe. Thanks for an illuminating post, and I love the graphic of the man made up of the elements. I’ll probably show the supernova video to my kids.

  48. #48 Radu
    April 28, 2012

    Why do we need a consolation in religion? And why do we need a consolation at all? We always seem to fight against the natural outcome of a passing life: death. We fight against the natural outcome of a passing Universe. If eternal life would be the natural outcome of life, we wouldn’t need any consolation. Guess what: it isn’t. Religion can’t change that. My positive thinking can’t change that. My life can’t change that.

    I actually found some good insights in a few comments here, namely that life is important because it is important for me. I am the only valid and perfect judge of my life. If I value my life, it has value. If not, it has no value. I don’t need an external judge to compare and weigh my life and say if it’s good or bad, if it has value or not. That’s why religion is not enough to give sense to life.

    Coming back to the main point of life’s futility…maybe that’s why we don’t find a Universe thriving with all sorts of advanced civilizations: they all found out it’s all pointless and just ceased to fight to go on, ceased to live against all odds.

  49. #49 Eric
    April 28, 2012

    Playing with incredibly big numbers might hurt the scientific way of understanding when one does make difference between big and very big. Billions years is the right unit for Earth, Sun and Universe ages. Present estimates for the “life” duration of our star give it a few more billions years, such that it just seems to be in its middle age. Writing with trillions of years does probably not change much to most people mind, but when debating about this being science and that not being it, a minimum concern does care about orders of magnitude (this being valuable as well for a few commentarors).
        By the way, we could also lengthily discuss about the fact that Andromeda galaxy is most probably going to collide our dear Milky Way galaxy « pretty soon », in two to three billion years, mcuh before catastrophic evolution of our Sun, and therefore, we will most probably have to « face » gravitational waves of the tsunami kind, for which I am not so convince that our technology will ever be able to overcome the issue. Huhue ! I say “we”, but in fact this will not all be “our” problem. I mean that of the human species. Simply because evolution ! From statistics, a species that has the chance of not being extinct for some or another reason (most of them since Life appraisal ! Keep humbleness), has an evolution duration of only a few… millions years, before it must be renamed as a different one, having sufficiently been changed. The duration of a spark among the former astronomical dreadful “fear-y” ballet. Sun inflation, galaxy embrace : who cares ?
        Whatever, tomorrow morning, the Sun will raise over another nice day. Enjoy it ! :-)

  50. #50 Sagan'sTurtleneck
    April 29, 2012

    I was one of those hysterical children dragging confused household pets under the couch (because that would surely save us!) after hearing that the sun would die out/explode on 3-2-1 Contact.
    Once again, you explain everything beautifully. Thanks!

  51. #51 Laird Wilcox
    April 29, 2012

    This is a bummer. If the sun’s going to explode it doesn’t make much to wash the car, does it?

  52. #52 Gino Polkamouse
    April 30, 2012

    For advanced students, another interesting fact is that several of the elements necessary for human life are transferric, thus they had to have been formed in a supernova and we could not exist until the first debris from a supernova arrived in our solar system. If more supernova debris were to arrive, it might rain gold and platinum, but unfortunately there could be a lot of thallium and uranium in there too and if life were to continue on this planet it would have to re-evolve to tolerate such things.

  53. #53 harkin
    April 30, 2012

    If the sun is “no more special than any other star in the sky”, take it away and those other stars won’t seem so special.

    Love it when someone talks down to us and yet has no clue.

  54. #54 Wow
    April 30, 2012

    “take it away and those other stars won’t seem so special”

    Take a look outside on a dark night.

    And look at the milky way.

    Now try it in the daytime.

    How much has that splendour been reduced because of that one mediocre star?

  55. #55 TTT
    April 30, 2012

    We already have enough physics to move the Earth to a wider orbit, saving it. We take orbital energy from Jupiter using an asteroid in a funky figure 8 orbit for transfer. We’ll soon have the engineering to pull it off. Calculations suggest that we have time to make it happen while the Sun heats up. While we’re at it, we can save Venus. And when the Sun shrinks into a white dwarf phase, we can reverse the process and get another, what is it?, ten trillion years of comfy use out of the Earth, for a modest amount of upkeep. The Sun doesn’t explode. It’s an increase in the solar wind. But it leaves behind a pretty planetary nebula for maybe ten thousand years. We probably won’t see it, but our descendants orbiting other stars might.

    Dude, we can’t even pay for school lunch programs.

  56. #56 Abarajithan
    May 1, 2012

    But, honestly, I’ve never been moved by these kind of truths…

  57. #57 Astroprogenus
    May 2, 2012

    @ area504 #36,

    There’s always at least one of you in a discussion like this. Spewing delusional thoughts about a man in the sky looking over you like a perverted parental figure is not something that belongs on the intellectual scale of this discussion. Please go to a Bible reading or whatever it is you do when you’re not actually reading science and spew that vacuous nonsense there.

    I personally remember when I first found out the sun would eventually die and I didn’t take it lightly. It did effect me to realize the finality of it all…and at that young age, what’s the difference between a billion, a million, and a thousand..I mean right now we have a hard enough time picturing just how much space a billion dollars of 100 dollar bills would occupy. I think ultimately, Ethan’s solution is novel and will work with most children. Yet, there’s always a significant minority who are extremely anxious, and I suppose it helps to take into account the temperament of the child. Perhaps a softer explanation to those children would be better…something like “the sun won’t die because every part of it will continue in a different form. Just as the sun converts energy that strikes us as light, it will eventually be converted into other substances and types of energy. In the universe, nothing truly dies…as all the atoms that make up the sun, you, me, bears, snakes, oceans, and everything else that you can see will eventually form new things”

  58. #58 Julian
    May 3, 2012

    The discussion in the comments of this blog remind me of a good song by the Vandals!:

    In five billion years,
    the sun will explode,
    It’s in the bible.

    IT’S A FACT.

  59. #59 Paul
    May 6, 2012

    Richard, your blind men story describes religion, not science. You have some people screaming God, others screaming Allah, yet others screaming karma, and some (with no more or less validity than the rest) shouting about unicorns. None listen to each other. Meanwhile scientists are discussing their observations with each other, comparing notes and discovering that they’re actually just dealing with an elephant. I always find it utterly hilarious when the religious use this story, it just underlines the lack of critical thinking they employ :)

  60. #60 Brian
    May 6, 2012

    I had this conversation a few days ago with my 4th grade daughter. I told the truth, that yes, one day the Sun will boil the oceans and kill our planet. But, it won’t happen for a long, long time. And by that time, perhaps space travel will be possible and we can leave and find a similar planet.

  61. #61 snodialove
    May 9, 2012

    I was one of those hysterical children dragging confused household pets under the couch (because that would surely save us!) after hearing that the sun would die out/explode on 3-2-1 Contact.
    Once again, you explain everything beautifully. Thanks!

  62. #62 g724
    May 9, 2012

    Good job, Ethan, and there’s one more thing you could put in there:

    Humans have so much time between now and then, that we can spread out to other planets around other stars. We can take examples of all the rest of Earth life with us to start new ecosystems on those planets.

    In order to do that, we need to support space exploration. First we need to visit Mars, and then build bases on the Moon and Mars. Then we need to build a new civilization on Mars, so we can work out all the details of living on a new planet. After that, we can start building further away in our star system, maybe on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.

    By that time we’ll have new advances in engineering that will enable us to build enormous space ships that we can use to travel to other stars. According to today’s science, the trip to another star will take thousands of years. With tomorrow’s science we might cut that travel time in half or even more.

    Once we spread out to other stars, humanity and Earth life can continue for as long as there are stars to support planets. But it all starts with the space exploration we’re doing now, which is why we need to support that and tell our elected officials we want them to support it.

    Now you see, this gives even small children “something they can do to help.” That is to encourage their friends to support the space program, and in a few years when they learn how to write letters, writing to the President and Congress.

    This takes whatever fears they may still have, and turns them into the motivation to do something, which is rewarded with the satisfaction of doing it.

    It’s always useful when bringing up a problem, to bring up something people can do to help solve it. “Problem-oriented thinking” spreads fear and despair; “solution-oriented thinking” spreads motivation and determination and encourages effort.

    As far as the issue of “what’s going to be around on Earth in a few billion years” is concerned: as a principle of ethics, we do not have the right to limit the ability of our distant descendants to choose their course of action. Specifically we do not have the right to squander Earth’s resources frivolously, or cause climate impacts or other changes that will decrease the ability of a technological civilization to allocate resources toward space exploration.

    We don’t know what humans are going to evolve into, or whether other intelligent species will evolve here over that span of time. We don’t know, so we can’t make decisions that cut off their ability to make their own choices in their time. We owe them an Earth that will support their own lives and give them the resources to make their own decisions.

  63. #63 orin
    May 10, 2012

    We live in a specific era in the evolution of the universe. After billions of years enough heavy elements were made by the first generations of stars, and they were able to diffuse to other regions, to enable the formation of star/planetary systems capable of forming life.
    But such processes will tail off. The amount of available matter to create stars large enough to go supernova will diminish, and increasingly matter will be sequestered in stars like our own. Nucleosyntheseis and dispersal will come to an end, and the universe will expand indefinitely to a cold end.
    We can observe this precisely because of the anthropic principle. We are here now because here and now is the optimal era for life.
    The past was too energetic and too devoid of essential elements. The future will be too cold. We are in the Goldilocks era of the universe. But it will not last.
    Ever notice how all the highly active galaxies are always several billion light years away? That is because the era of active galaxies ended several billion years ago. The super-massive central black holes ran out of nearby material to gobble up, and settled down to quiescence. Today, the Milky Way galaxy has a very faint jet reflecting the greatly attenuated activity of the central black hole.
    All the nearby galaxies look like ours just as all the dinosaurs looked pretty much alike, and very different from the paleozoic life forms that preceded them.
    Location, location, location… and timing is everything.

  64. #64 LC
    May 10, 2012

    Could you explain a bit more about the process?

    Are you saying that, for ex., it is instantaneous, that all would be well on the Earth at 9am and at 9:15am the planet would be gone?

    If, otoh, it is a long process, how long are we talking about? Thousands, millions, billions of years? What would be happening on Earth?

    Would intelligent life on the Earth be aware of the “tipping point”, the point at which the Sun starts to die? Would, iow, they know in advance? How far in advance?

    And are you then saying that over some extended period of time, the planet would slowly become so hot that no life could survive so that final blowoff would be essentially irrelevant?

    I know these are awfully basic questions but I honestly don’t know the answers and all I’ve ever read is the bare minimum, i.e., the sun will die and with it the planet. I’d like a few more details, please.

  65. #65 Wow
    May 11, 2012

    “I know these are awfully basic questions”

    They’re daft questions.

    When you make a cake, at one point, you have ingredients. At some later point you have cake.

    At what point do the ingredients turn into cake?

  66. #66 ewb
    May 12, 2012

    Explosive, not explosive; religion, not religion; but no one mentions this howler: “The stars of the past died so that you could be here…” Er, no, actually, they didn’t. What next, maybe: “Single cellular creatures evolved so that you could be here…”? Kids dig facts, and truth, so just give it to them.

  67. #67 GunboatDiplomat
    May 14, 2012

    Perhaps some of the kids wouldn’t be getting freaked out about the end of life on earth if they weren’t filled full of fairy tales about “everlasting life” since they were in nappies.

    Also if Gods bigger than the sun why can’t I see him?

    “Honest religious answer”: Because hes invisible and hides and made it impossible. Clearly not very satisfying answer so instead I’ll bet on the:

    “Probable religious answer”: Because you’re looking for him in the wrong place, look for him in your heart and the hearts of others yada yada or some such metaphorical allusion that tries to sound wise but is really just a fancy way of avoiding the question its akin to answering “How does eletricity work?” with “chicken sandwich”

  68. #68 Grace Sevilly
    May 14, 2012

    Now now, I think John 117 has a point there. The sun is not big enough to cause a massive explosion that will erase us from the universe, but of course we’ll all be gone anyway without the sun

  69. #69 Hyptalk
    May 14, 2012

    And just to add, religion shouldn’t even be discussed here. This is a science blog people, just stick to the facts. No offense meant

  70. #70 Tri Haryadi
    July 11, 2012

    The Sun doesn’t explode. It’s an increase in the solar wind. But it leaves behind a pretty planetary nebula for maybe ten thousand years. We probably won’t see it, but our descendants orbiting other stars might. That’s what you tell a 3rd grader. Even much older kids are alarmed. Look at Yahoo!Answers if you need evidence.

  71. #71 Robert Dinse
    Shoreline, WA
    July 23, 2012

    Even if the Earth is still in the orbit of the expanded sun, the density of the solar atmosphere when it’s expanded out to the orbit of the Earth may be so thin that even if it still is very hot it may not obliterate the Earth.

    I’m convinced mankind will destroy our planet, at least in terms of being habitable for us, before nature has a chance.
    We are stardust
    We are golden
    And we’ve got to get ourselves
    Back to the garden

  72. #72 Justin
    September 6, 2012

    Even if that will happen it cannot destroy the Earth …..
    And if that is not gonna happpen ……
    Scientists said that there is a black hole that is destroying our ozone layer and if destroys the whole layer the sun might destroy the Earth , plus the snow will melt and cause very high flood and there is no to worry if that’s gonna happen just trust our Father,Jesus………… so don’t be sad :)

  73. #73 Justin
    September 6, 2012

    Also guys I’m a grade 4 student and I’m not worried

    And Robert here has a point the sun can’t destroy the earth , people destroy it because of pollution and smog can also destroy our ozone layer………. so start being clean and do not cut trees if they are embarassing cause that may start to destroy Mother Nature………

  74. #74 Justin
    September 6, 2012

    Also Grace has a point that when the sun is gone we can’t live……… reply plsssss…….

  75. #75 Justin
    September 6, 2012

    And if that is 10 billion yrs im alredy dead of being old because im alredy 10 yrs oldd hihihihi………. :}

  76. #76 jerome ingram
    whittier california
    September 14, 2012

    it should , its common sense the mayans must of counted the years we had in this world and it ended to 2012 so my hypothesis is the world will end with the sun exploding and turn to a black hole and no one will know yet if we go into that black hole we might be shifted to another demension . i hope we do because im highly facinated with extra terrestriol i am 15 and have the brain of a scientist it mite not seem but just hear me out i think the mayans must of counted the years of this earth

  77. #77 Wow
    September 14, 2012

    Jerome, no, you do not have the brain of a scientist.

    The mayan calendar no more stops at 2012 than the gregorian calendar stopped at 1999, or the years stop when you get to December. There was a roll over. No more. No less.

    And how do you come to think “the mayans must of counted the years of this earth”? Did you talk to them?

  78. #78 Jason black
    September 18, 2012

    i do not mean to be nasty but you are WRONG our sun is not going to explode in a supernova or any other type of detonation our sun will go rd giant and most probably destroy all the inner rock planets however the outer gas giants would survive almost unaffected it may even be possible to move earth to a new habitable zone by use of a giant solar sail or gravitational pulls from celestial bodies.

  79. #79 Vince Whirlwind
    September 18, 2012

    yeah i’ve got, one of those “brain of a scientist” too, i found it on the beach, one, day and I keep it in a jar in the shed; because the Mrs won’t let me, have it in the house because its true it is starting to stink; a bit,

  80. #80 Michelle P
    Melbourne, Australia
    October 2, 2012

    I think it can be quite traumatizing if a child was told bluntly that the sun will explored and everyone will die. I’m 23, i just found out this myself and I don’t think my reaction is any different than a child’s, that is I’m truly horrified as I love this earth so much and cannot comprehended human extinction. Maybe i wasn’t paying attention to science at school to know this or whatever reason. Its a bit ironic as I happen to teach kindergarten children!
    But the point is, after I read Ethan’s article the way in which he worded things seemed to flow and almost seem optimistic. I really appreciated that you took the time to word things in a way that a child would be able to understand and not get too overwhelmed by. At the very least it helped me to calm out of a panic attack i was having.
    And the fact that the sun will not explode and just become a black dwarf is probably a great thing instead of most likely obliterating the earth as well . And i’m sure by the time/before that happens we will be so far advanced in our technology that we will have new technologies and do-able actions/plans for how we will survive extinction and live on.

    I really love this world, always appreciating the natural beauty of earth, even the sun with our beautiful sun sets and hot summer days. I know that i probably will not be around when the sun dies (unless believing in re-carnation), but even so, it makes me unimaginably sad knowing all the green grass, beautiful scenery, and all life forms will be gone one day…

  81. #81 Wow
    October 2, 2012

    “I think it can be quite traumatizing if a child was told bluntly that the sun will explored and everyone will die.”

    Well, don’t do that, then.

    Try doing what Ethan does here instead.

  82. #82 lmfao
    October 5, 2012

    if it makes you feel better… Either the Relig-O’ NUTS will take over again and oppress Science, which in turn will make who or what ever is the dominate species on earth oblivious to Logic and will think a God hate them as steam rises from there heads!

    OR, we will be off abducting other species to figure out which end to probe!!!!


  83. #83 Karina
    North America
    October 24, 2012

    I had a dream once that the sun blew up, I’m gonna wright a book about it, my friends say that this was inspiration, but a seriously messed up subconscious which may be true because my subconscious is separated from my conscious and had tried to kill me several times. It takes over when I sleep

  84. #84 bradley
    December 11, 2012

    if the sun explodes will we die and if stars did not explode why will we won’t be here?

  85. #85 Emilia
    January 18, 2013

    Thanks for breaching this topic because I was in fact, one of the children who was deeply troubled by this. And recently I was reminded of that trauma and then I realized…it still bothers me.

    Adults would always try and re assure me as a child, and this always made it worse. Most common responses:
    1) But that’s in billions of years!
    2) No one is going to be around anyway!

    Okay, 1). Why does the distance of the future make it any more or less real? Let’s say the sun was going to burn this planet up in a week. Now how do you justify your day to day actions? Does putting it billions of years away really make a difference, or are we just fooling ourselves?

    2) No one is going to be around by then anyway. Well, truth be told I don’t worry about myself or my friends burning to death; I worry about the human race ending. I worry about the extinction of all species on Earth. And then some would say, well the human race may be gone by then anyway. Oh great, that makes me feel better too! What’s the point of going to the moon and discovering the cure to cancer if the human race, and all it’s knowledge, will be gone someday anyway?

    Sorry, this is really coming out of a place of apathy. But the more I think about it the harder it is for me to justify my existence, and any of my actions. Are we really going to resettle our civilization somewhere? We can’t even find a liveable planet in a probe that can’t support life, and travels for years and years.

    I would love to hear these “re-positioning” the Earth in a new orbit ideas that are being tossed around. I’ve never heard them before but that, as far fetched as it is, would give me some hope.

    As for your answer, that we are born of stars and can someday replace them, that is awesome but…will my stardust be affected by my actions today? No. Nothing I do in my life affects that destiny. Anyway, I was a dark child, but other kids might buy it.

  86. #86 Me
    New York ny
    January 23, 2013

    Every body in here is a but!

  87. #87 AdrianJW
    January 24, 2013

    To John 117
    The author is not misinformed and is quite correct in his explanation. As a teacher, he would know how best to explain phenomena in a careful way to avoid developing misconceptions in later learning. This he has done and it merely reveals a vacuous arrogance to take a ‘higher’ factual plain and to lecture.
    We talk of batteries providing energy to light a torch. If there is more than one cell then yes this a battery – of cells. Do we correct and risk confusion and misconception in later learning? No, we explain and leave room for later and more sophisticated understanding. This The author has done. The term ‘get over yourself’ comes to mind.

  88. #88 Timothy White
    February 6, 2013

    Great post Ethan – I teach kids 12-17. They love ‘big question’ topics and this is the kind of issue the grab onto. Contrary to what many people think, kids are totally fascinated by questions about being, the meaning of existence and its ending. They get more excited about this stuff than almost anything I can think of (computer game and mobile phones included!). All the best and please keep the posts coming. Tim

  89. #89 Jonas Horde
    United States
    February 15, 2013

    Holy hell. Y’know, I never comment on Internet message boards. But sweet mother Jesus, this commenting wasteland is an Aspie paradise. I haven’t seen such petty, carping faultfinding outside of figure skating or Texas mom cheerleading.
    Fuck, man.

  90. #90 michelle
    February 19, 2013

    wat will u do to be prepared for the sun’s death

  91. #91 Sean T
    February 19, 2013


    There’s only a few options:

    1. Find a way to move the earth and keep it in the “goldilock zone” during the billion of so years that the sun will slowly increase its output and keep it away from the sun as it expands into a red giant.

    2. Find a way to colonize satellites of the outer planets.

    3. Find a way to move to other star systems.

    4. Go extinct.

    Options 1 and 2 are only temporary solutions; after becoming a red giant, the sun will eventually run out of material that can undergo fusion and will cease to give off enough energy to sustain life. In another sense, option 3 is temporary as well; not only would a new star experience a similar fate, the ultimate heat death of the universe would most likely ensure that option 4 is inevitable eventually.

  92. #92 GTS
    February 24, 2013

    The sun is not large enough to supernova. It all depends on what perspective you are looking from. If your on a different planet other than earth looking at our sun though a telescope you will see the sun expand into a red giant but if your here on earth or close by the expansion will very much seem like an explosion considering that the sun will spew its innards in all directions for billions and billions of miles. So really it depends on how you look at it. i just wish I would be alive when it happens

  93. #93 Orlaborla
    March 13, 2013

    I just stumbled onto this website. I find it very interesting and amusing. I think in maybe as little as 100 years anyone looking back at these posts would really laugh. No one knows when or how the end of our world as we know it will come. I do believe in God. But not in “religion”. I have to believe there is some kind of intelligence behind our creation, whether it be the Big Bang theory or something else. It is interesting and fun to discuss this topic but I believe it is fruitless because we cannot change the outcome. We can only change our short life as we live it.

  94. #94 Tia
    April 5, 2013

    I’m a kid, and i do think the world will end, but not soon. The sun is a great big star, which will explode, or, burn out. But it will take thousands,millions of years.I will be dead then, and so will you.Everyone has different opinions, but no one knows how the end will come , or when/if the sun will explode.I found this very interesting and educational.

  95. #95 Tia
    April 5, 2013

    Karina, everyone has those dreams, i dreamt that the sun blew up and i was on another planet, i dreamt lots of things about the end of the world, so dont be so stupid, a dream doesnt mean anything.

  96. #96 Sean T
    April 5, 2013


    I realize that you are young and may not have learned a lot about stellar evolution, so let me educate you a bit:

    We do have a pretty fair idea about what the ultimate fate of the sun will be and a pretty good idea about the rough timetable of events. The sun’s output, in about 10^9 years or so, will gradually begin to increase as the sun starts running out of hydrogen. At a point (and I’m not an expert on this so forgive me that my timetable is a bit vague) a couple of billion years after the sun starts to increase its output, the hydrogen will completely run out. At this point, it will undergo a vast expansion that will either swallow the earth or come close. If life has survived on earth to that point, it’s very likely that all life on earth will end at that time. This is the red giant stage of solar evolution. It will then go through other stages and wind up as a planetary nebula.

    It’s true that we don’t KNOW this for certain, at least in terms of philosophical certainty, but this is the best model for stellar evolution that we have. If you have one better (or develop one someday), you likely will win a Nobel prize and become very famous, at least within the scientific community. In short, we may not be 100% dead nuts certain, but we do have a pretty good idea about what will happen. It’s much different from “nobody really knows what will happen”.

  97. #97 Wow
    April 5, 2013

    “I have to believe there is some kind of intelligence behind our creation”

    Genuine question here: why?

    If it’s because you emotionally “have to”, think of it this way:

    If there is no guidling intelligence to give meaning to existence, you make your meaning by living your life. Emotionally, I feel this is a whole lot better than there is a meaning that someone else put to it, if only because if someone else decided it, I can get it wrong, whereas if it’s me myself making my life worthy, I can’t fail to live it. I can only fail to live the life I feel I should.

  98. #98 MeMe2
    April 16, 2013

    Well, for a start this is incorrect, it isnt worth reading it, its wrong. In reply to John-117’s post, you are right, its incorrect. As for the people talking about religon, you shoudent be here, it causes arguments and cyber wars. Anyway, as someone else said, if you are going to give 7 year olds a bad and frightening education, stop teaching and look it up on google. In reply to g724, we dont have the technology to move Earth’s orbit, we’ll have to wait for at least 3,000 years and 100 million years at the most. I would also like to add to the person saying the first 2 commentors were trolls. They are NOT trolls, you are the troll around here. The religous person is also a troll because he/she flooded the comments with religous rubbish. And that concludes this very long post. I’d also like to thank the people who took the time to read my post. BTW no offence meant if any of this post offended you.

  99. #99 MeMe2
    April 16, 2013

    And to add, The Sun will swell up into a red giant and after that it will puff its outer layers away and form a planetary nebula which will stay for about 10,000 years. The Sun isnt going to explode.

  100. #100 MeMe2
    April 18, 2013

    Adding another thing, I do beleve in a Cat God, but i have no relgion behind it, I dont think he made the universe, I just think he is there. P.S. I dont think that anybody should argue about there opinion, because at the end of the day, its an opinion, but yes, I think religion is full of lies even though there is evidence towards it. P.P.S. If god is there, why did the Japanese tsunami and the Chinese earthquake 5 years ago happen? Why didnt god stop them from happening? End of story. BTW im not trying to cause arguments either, im just pointing out my point of view.

  101. #101 MeMe2
    April 18, 2013

    I also dont want answers back saying bad has to happen. If god was there, he would make bad extinct, not the Dinosaurs.

  102. #102 MeMe2
    April 18, 2013

    Timothy White, its not a great post, its a terribly incorrect post, ok

  103. #103 MeMe2
    April 18, 2013

    Also, for the publisher of the post I reccomend this book called: Star, From Birth To Black Hole, it will tell you about how the sun will die. Buy it at Waterstones, thats where I got my copy :).

  104. #104 MeMe2
    April 18, 2013

    Sean T, I completly agree with you,we may NOT be 100% certain, but we’re 90% sure it will happen :). P.S. all of the religous trolls keep ruining these discussions :'(

  105. #105 MeMe2
    April 18, 2013

    Jonas Horde, DONT troll like that again.

  106. #106 MeMe2
    April 18, 2013

    AdrianJW, unfourtunatley he is misinformed and he dosent know how to teach kids. If you think he is great at teaching then you are an idiot with half a brain

  107. #107 MeMe2
    April 18, 2013

    “I would love to hear these “re-positioning” the Earth in a new orbit ideas that are being tossed around. I’ve never heard them before but that, as far fetched as it is, would give me some hope.”
    youre right, it is far fetched. as i stated in my first post, we may have to wait millions or even billions of years for this technology. Recently theve been saying that mars and venus are going to go crazy in 1 billion years and crash into us. This means we might be gone if we dont get off earth if/when it happens, so it would matter.

  108. #108 casey
    May 5, 2013

    its in 5 seconds! 5…4…3…2…1…0…supernova!!!
    just kidding…its 5,000,000,000 years. 5,000,000,000…………………………………………………………………………….

  109. #109 hodon
    May 8, 2013

    oh no i don’t want to die! so unhappy im a child

  110. #110 hodon
    oh no
    May 8, 2013

    the sun will die after a five billion years
    we will die!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  111. #111 Steve Frank
    United States
    June 13, 2013

    Honestly I dont think the sun blowing up or whatever its going to do is going to be that big a deal to a kid after they realize they wont be here to see it happen. Im pretty sure the death thing is the one you need to explain without scaring the crap out of him/her. But the sun/human connection is great none the less.

  112. #112 Al
    June 29, 2013

    I asked my kids if they were upset when they first found out that the Sun was going to explode. “Of course not!” was the answer.
    I wonder if the problem is that some children have been shielded from reality with fairy-tales about re-incarnation or the afterlife and are therefore incapable of dealing with mortality. Filling their heads with more fairy-tales about startdust might not be in the children’s best interest.

  113. #113 Oly
    August 1, 2013

    If I were to explain to a child I’d simply say “One day, our sun will die. Much like other stars you can see. However, it won’t mean the end for humans, as by then we’ll have invented ways to travel to a star. A star that has a lot of it’s life left to live. We’ll inhabit a new planet and travel through the stars from it.” After all, it appeals to the child’s imagination and wonder at the idea of space ships.

  114. #114 Leslie
    August 11, 2013

    No kids. A star did not explode so you could be here. God created the sun the stars the sky the moon and all you see around you. He put all of this in place so you could be here. So you could enjoy it so you could see what he sees. So you can see who he is and what he is capable of. “Jesus” his son the only star that matters died so you could always enjoy what God created. Some people need to make sense of things by breaking us all down to nothing. But we didn’t not come from nothing we came from everything. We are the reason everything is the way it is and looks. I hope you never forget that. That is the truth. God is your reason for being alive. Someday the world will end. Maybe the sun will explode. But even that is a choice made by God. Even he knows that all things must come to and end. But he is the beginning the present and the end of everything we see. Know and even study.

  115. #115 Wow
    August 12, 2013

    No kids, god doesn’t exist. It was made up to keep you in check when your parents weren’t looking. A free baby sitter, if you like.

    Tell me, Leslie, do you still believe in Santa Clause? If not, why not? How else do all those kids get their presents on the same night, huh? Tell me that!

  116. #116 ScienceGuy1201
    August 27, 2013

    People do not try to understand God. Just praise him. He created us all and loves each and every one of us in our own special way. If you don’t believe in Him and stand up for your opinion than I respect that. But if you come up with a bunch of garbage and trash talk about him than that’s just hating. ps. Its never too late to start believing in Him.

  117. #117 ScienceGuy1201
    August 27, 2013

    Reply to Wow:
    Dude, we all know by now that Santa Claus is fake . And that our parents and family got us our presents. And one more thing, GOD ISNT SANTA CLAUS if that was the case he would have sent his only begotten son to give us presents for our sins. And to pay him back we would have to go and buy some cookies and milk instead of praying to him for dying for our sins. And he didn’t die in his sleep you know! He was painfully crucified. I swear some people just don’t grow up.

  118. #118 Wow
    August 28, 2013

    “Dude, we all know by now that Santa Claus is fake”

    Sorry, how do you know this? You cannot prove a negative.

    “And one more thing, GOD ISNT SANTA CLAUS”

    How do you know? Answer: you do not.

    In what significant way are they different? They are both stories told to people to explain some things that seem mysterious, and ensure good behaviour by withholding their gifts if you are seen to be naughty, and they ARE ALWAYS WATCHING YOU to make sure you’re not.

    They have a huge amount in common.

    Including their fictitious nature.

    “if that was the case he would have sent his only begotten son to give us presents for our sins.”

    If that weren’t the case, they wouldn’t withhold their gifts from those who wouldn’t be nice.

    And you’re really presuming here that one DID send their “only begotten son”. If neither exist, including the “begotten son” bit, then this is yet another non-difference: neither did that.

    “And he didn’t die in his sleep you know!”

    Since he never lived, he cannot have died in his sleep.

    “He was painfully crucified.”

    You can’t crucify someone who is a figment of imagination. Gandalf didn’t die at Moria either.

    But according to The Good Book, Gandalf did die in Moria, to be reborn to save Middle Earth.

    You see, this is the thing about stories.

    They get repeated.

    (PS look up the birth of Mithras, the Roman God of War. It was set centuries earlier than 0 BC. Like I said: stories get repeated. But repetition doesn’t make them true. Or do you follow Mithras?)

  119. #119 Wow
    August 28, 2013

    “ScienceGuy”, Santa loves us. If he didn’t he wouldn’t work miracles to get us our presents.


  120. #120 Misty
    August 29, 2013

    Years from now, people will read this argument over whether the sun will end with an explosion or a deflagration.

    I’d like to be the smart alek who points out that a deflagration is an explosion. There are two types of explosions – a deflagration is a type of explosion that occurs subsonically and operates through transfer of heat, and a detonation transfers through shock energy. The sun is currently literally exploding all the time.

    The problem isn’t the author’s use of the word of explosion, the problem is that a bunch of people seem to think that “explosion” is synonymous with “detonation.” A supernova is the result of a deflagration type explosion transitioning into a detonation type explosion.

    Here’s a quote:

    “Explosions are most often driven by flames propagating at relatively slow subsonic velocities,” explains Poludnenko. “Under certain conditions, however, this ‘slow’ mode of burning can transition to a completely different regime — detonation, a.k.a. the ‘deflagration-to-detonation transition.’ In this case, burning is driven by very fast, strong shock waves that can travel at more than 5 times the speed of sound. The power and destructive potential of such detonation- driven explosions is vastly greater than flame-driven ones. Understanding the conditions and physical mechanisms that can cause the transition between these two explosive modes is critical for developing proper preventive and protective measures in industrial settings.”

    In fact, the sun is LITERALLY exploding right now. And before anyone chimes in with “don’t be technical”, the whole argument was about how using the word “explosion” wasn’t technically accurate.

    It is technically and literally accurate to call the massive deflagration

  121. #121 JustME
    August 31, 2013

    I have never read such big Bull Crap before!!!
    If this is what you teach children please stop teaching ad get your fact straigt.
    Like many said before not enough mass to explode!
    Stages are red Giant, blow off a lot off stellar matter and white darf ( some say a gigantic diamond).
    Please read more then 1 article to be sure ya know what ya talkin about …

  122. #122 Mthandazo Mlingo
    South Africa
    September 4, 2013

    I do not think all this rumour about the sun exploding and us having been made up by the reaction that takes place amoung the stars periodically is anything near the actual truth.
    Fact being, there is no reaction, order of change whatsoever not to mention life that can happen without the driver of everything. You guys are missing a big part here that will draw us back to the Bible, about the owner who created everything up to a human being. Come to think of it, all these complications about the human body could never have happened by any reaction without being controlled by a Being who knew what He was doing.
    If this whole story was invented only for education then i want to say the whole lecture was wrongly drafted. God is there, who made His own people and is obviously the owner of what else we see by our scientific equipment. People better start believing that this world is going to come to an end and all these chemical reactions of stars and the sun will never be experienced by any human being if they ever would happen if The Creator hadn’t shortened the times of the Earth.
    So my conclussion is: The world is no more than 7 000 yrs old and it will soon come to an end because God lives.

  123. #123 trudy
    September 19, 2013

    Traumatized that the solar system will be destroyed? No, but traumatized that Everything will vanish? Yes.

  124. #124 Wow
    September 19, 2013

    “You guys are missing a big part here that will draw us back to the Bible, about the owner who created everything up to a human being. ”

    So how did that creator get created?

    Or do things that move and act and thing and want and need not have to be “alive” to do so? In which case, who says we are “alive” in a way that needs a creator?

  125. #125 Wow
    September 19, 2013

    “God is there, who made His own people”

    And His People are the semitics. Indeed in the End Of Times, a score of thousands of the 12 original tribes of Israel will be the ONLY ONES SAVED.

    That’s right: NO NON JEW will survive and get to heaven, and even then, onlu 144,000 of them.

    The pogrom against the remaining several million jews who will die in the conflagration will be a final solution of a vastly greater scale than Hitler and Goebbels managed.

  126. #126 emelia
    November 28, 2013

    i know that the sun will not blow up there are only small blow ups and that will contine you with small blow ups also the blow ups go back to the sun soo nothing will hapin too the sun or us how do i know ill this i study the soler system with my freind.

  127. #127 michael
    huntsville alabama
    December 11, 2013

    if the sun dies we will die!!!!

  128. #128 Mischa White
    United States
    December 16, 2013

    my sun michael is right the sun will not eplode

  129. #129 Sean T
    December 17, 2013


    Michael’s statement is certainly correct (at least with our current level of technology; it could be rendered false if we develop the ability to travel to and colonize planets orbiting other stars). We will die if sun dies. Your statement is logically and scientifically unjustified. Pointing out that the human race is doomed if the sun explodes does not imply that the sun will not explode.

  130. #130 Jffry
    January 20, 2014

    First the narrator said our sun will become a red giant then a white dwarf. How would this scare children were talking 4 billion years from now. Many other earth destroying stuff will happen way before that, super volcanos,nuclear weapons, solar flare at the worse possible time like when poles shift, comet/asteroid impact, global warming, diseases, etc.
    I seriously doubt any humans will be around when the event takes place. that would take place long time from now. Longer then it took our entire solar system to evolve .

    Sorry but these God people ticked me off!!!
    God really. Good Orderly Direction is what it means.
    Also which god so many cultures have 100s I of their idea of god. Akantn and Nefertiti they changed worshiping many gods to the sun god. God was made up by man to scare and spy and control the masses through fear.
    Furthermore more humans died in the name of god through wars. Than any other reason. Non a god I’d want to put faith in!!
    Science is king. Not god the hands off invisibile being.
    Also the person whom said him referring to god proves is all ego. And if I’m wrong he’d have to be long dead and never knew we existed. He’d have to be 14.7 billion years old.
    Don’t think so. People! Just read the old and new testiment.
    What happened to all those miracles. When science didn’t exists. Where are the miricals today. Not including science that man created. The bible is a history book full of grapevine hearsay and exaggeration.

    Debate me on this text 267-254-6888 I really would like some thoughts. .

  131. #131 littlegreenman
    February 14, 2014

    What you should tell kids is that in a couple of billion years from now the sun wont burn any more. When it stops burning there will be no light and no heat on earth so no one or nothing can live on it. But before that happens we teach you guys science and shit so you can go out and research and invent new technologies so in time it won t matter because we will live on another planet with a brand new sun.

  132. #132 Brian L Hughes
    Pacific Northwest
    February 26, 2014

    Well we better get started on the Ark del SOL pretty soon. It’s going to take a lot of asteroid mining to get it finished on time at the rate we are going.

  133. #133 Anish
    March 3, 2014

    The sun will never ever die

  134. #134 t.k.k.p
    March 29, 2014

    Will anything happen to the sun in a span of around 50-100,
    or 100-125 years.
    Please E-Mail me.

  135. #135 sci-team
    April 8, 2014

    Will anything happen to the sun in a span of around 50-100,
    or 100-125 years.
    Please E-Mail me.

  136. #136 Michael Kelsey
    SLA National Accelerator Laboratory
    April 9, 2014

    @sci-team #135: Lots of things will happen to the Sun on those time scales! There will be more sunspots, then there will be fewer sunspots, then there will be more again, and so on. There will be little solar flares, and big solar flares, and coronal mass ejections. There will be comets which pass very close to the Sun, and comets which break up and fall into the Sun.

  137. #137 user508
    April 18, 2014

    Do people really think the Earth is going to still be around by the time the sun bellies up? I would be shocked if Humans lasted another 2,000 years without destroying themselves or reducing the planet to a toxic wasteland. We already have nukes laying around that are capable of leveling continents.

  138. #138 lakeisha
    South Africa,Gauteng,Eldoradopark,extension2,70elandsberg drive
    June 1, 2014

    Me myself I am a child I am 12years old and I think 4 a child my age that was really fascinating. The sun exploding didn’t cum close 2 me thinking thank you for sharing

  139. #139 lordNova
    supernova heart
    June 15, 2014

    shut up all of you all of you is not archaeologist and we don,t experience that supernova exlode so shut up and listen

  140. #140 Evan
    June 26, 2014

    We need to make sure our kids can swim instead of teaching them about the lifespan of the sun. Temperatures will increase during our suns semi-splosion melting all the ice caps, increasing sea level. Im opening a giant orphange in the himalayas. I win .

  141. #141 Edwin
    Baltimore, MD
    July 3, 2014

    I’m not too sure if my hypothesis is correct. But, I think of it like this. Once you go out into Space far enough you’re into the Time Lapse.

    What’s a Star?
    A Star is a ball of Gasses that rapidly keep exploding from Millionw, Billions pr even Trillions of uears ago. So, there must be a Time Lapse that keeps the Gasses in Rewind and Play.

    What’s the Sun?
    The sun is a Star. So, basically the Sun is also in a Time Lapse. Therefore, beings were close enough to be impacted by the Sun.

    We too are in the Time Lapse, we already lived and died Millions, Billions if not even Trillions of years ago. You’re living in the past.

    We don’t understand time and probably never will.

    No, I’m not stupid if this sounds insane to you or completely incorrect. I stated that it’s my own personal hypothesis.

    Furthermore, I do understand how Space, Stars, the Sun and all that neat stuff works.

  142. #142 MeMe2
    People who know what they are talking about land.
    July 15, 2014

    Edwin, your hypothesis cannot exist. Let me explain why:
    1. Stars do not keep exploding, they keep FUSING atoms (mainly hydrogen and helium) together.
    2. “From millions of years ago?” Stars are not from millions of years ago.
    3. What are you talking about? Stars burn for millions, billions or trillions of years then die. They shed there outer layer that can eventually form new stars.
    4. Already explained.
    5. This is so stupid I cannot even be bothered to explain this shit.
    6. We DO understand time. Where do you think the clock comes from?

    You obviously don’t understand this stuff, or you would not be posting this retarded hypothesis.
    My conclusion:
    You need to work A LOT on this hypothesis before it is even considered to possibly be correct. You are a very big retard.

  143. #143 MeMe2
    August 12, 2014

    Leslie: Fuck off. God does not exist you retard, stop trying to tell kids he does you fucking dogshit.

    Sorry for the language, but people, sorry, trolls like this just piss my fucking dick off.

  144. #144 MeMe2
    The Sun
    September 17, 2014

    I am an idiot. I admit it. I’m just that stupid.

  145. #145 MeMe2
    September 29, 2014

    People, stop impersonating me like a fucking dogshitting bumface.

  146. #146 Sean
    October 7, 2014

    Well now, more bad news; the increase in solar luminosity apparently will, in about another billion years, make Earth’s water evaporate and escape into space, rendering it inhospitable to all known terrestrial life.
    Earth probably will not survive the Sun’s change into a red giant. At its largest, the Sun will have a maximum radius beyond Earth’s current orbit, 250 times the present radius of the Sun.
    the orbits of the planets will have drifted outwards due to a loss of roughly 30% of the Sun’s present mass. Most of this mass will be lost as the solar wind increases.
    Also, tidal acceleration will help boost Earth to a higher orbit (similar to what Earth does to the Moon). If it were only for this, Earth would probably remain outside the Sun. However, current research suggests that after the Sun becomes a red giant, Earth will be pulled in owing to tidal deceleration.

    Klaus-Peter Schroder, Robert C. Smith

    Bloecker, T.

  147. #147 HI
    October 21, 2014

    It is possable because the sun will get smaller and it will get closer to the earth with the gravitatinal pull it will come closer.

  148. #148 Onkabetse
    South Africa
    October 23, 2014

    The world will end soon but it will be the greatest of all knowing that we all love God and he loves us

  149. #149 nsysuzian
    October 25, 2014

    I am 30. I believe in God. We are made with stars, but we are not made by stars. God promised to make a new world. Because the entire universe is lost to satan. Gallaxies will clash, stars will burn out, the earth will be scorched, people will die. Everything is set to be destroyed. This is no longer the universe he first created. Everything in the universe, including our souls, belongs to satan according to the law of heaven (We have sinned). God was helpless. He had to break the law by dying sinlessly in this universe. Therefore, satan can no longer gain his claim on our soul, since both the sinned and the sinless perished together in this universe. God can rightfully take us away from satan.

    Our physical bodies still continue to die from disasters in this universe, God can’t do anything about it. Because our physical bodies are made from elements in this universe.

    This is what God inspired me to tell you guys after I asked him.

    Lots of the things I typed above I didn’t know until just now.

    Hope it helps.

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