The Afterlife of the Solar System

It is common knowledge that about five billion years from now, the Sun will use up its hydrogen fuel in its core, swell up into a red giant, destroy the inner planets, and collapse into a white dwarf. Most people assume that will be the end of the story, but perhaps not….

Six billion years from now, the remains of the Solar System passes through a nebula and the Sun’s gravity begins to pull gas onto it. Soon, the Sun acquires so much mass that it collapses further into a neutron star. Meanwhile, the planet Jupiter also gains mass from the surrounding gas. Eventually, Jupiter becomes massive enough to ignite thermonuclear reactions in its core, becoming a star. It even acquires a new planet, which I’ll call Euphoria, that is nearly as massive as Earth once was. The gravitational dance of the Sun and Jupiter causes the planets beyond Jupiter to be tossed out into interstellar space.

Ten billion years from now, Euphoria has intelligent life forms living on it, including astronomers. With Earth long since destroyed, there will be no traces of us left for them to know about. It will be as it we had never existed, and from their point of view, the Solar System as it was would probably be only a wild speculation, much like this essay.

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