Beyond the oceans boiling and the death of our Sun, Earth’s ultimate fate won’t be determined until far in the distant future.
It took the Universe 13.8 billion years to create planet Earth as we know it, but we won’t last forever.
Many catastrophic events await our world in the future, but Earth will survive most of them.
Nothing humanity can do, from triggering global climate catastrophes to thermonuclear war, will truly destroy the planet.
After 2 billion years, increased energy output from the Sun will boil Earth’s oceans, but the planet itself will survive.
In about 4 billion years, Andromeda and the Milky Way will merge, but gravitational ejection and stellar collisions affecting us are disfavored.
After another ~6 billion years, the Sun will swell, devouring Mercury and Venus, but Earth will persist.
Our red giant will die after ~9.5 billion years, with Earth continuing to orbit the Sun’s corpse indefinitely.
After 10¹⁵ years, our white dwarf will cool completely, yet Earth will remain undisturbed.
10¹⁹ years from now, gravitational interactions between galactic masses will likely eject the remnant Solar System.
Random mergers, collisions, or gravitational ejections are all possible, but represent unlikely outcomes.
Instead, Earth’s eventual demise occurs when our orbit decays via gravitational waves.
We’ll ultimately be swallowed by our remnant black dwarf after some 10²⁵ years.
Mostly Mute Monday tells the scientific story of an object or phenomenon in this Universe in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.Ethan Siegel is the author of Beyond the Galaxy and Treknology. You can pre-order his third book, currently in development: the Encyclopaedia Cosmologica.