New calculations by astronomers at the University of Sussex predict that the Earth will be vaporised by the Sun in about 7.6 billion years unless the planet’s orbit is changed. This contradicts previous model results showing that the Earth will be burnt to a cinder, but otherwise left intact when our local star expands into a red giant.
The planet will fizzle out of existence, but Robert Smith and his colleagues stress that life on Earth will have disappeared long before then if we leave things as they are. Still, he says, we could prolong life on Earth for at least another five billion years by harnessing the gravitational effects of a large asteroid to nudge the planet’s orbit gradually outwards, away from the encroaching Sun.
This way we might even survive the Sun’s red giant phase. The Sun won’t go nova, not being massive enough, but it should still be a nice show, possibly with a pretty planetary nebula such as the one above. That’s nice.