Astronomers question Earth's fate after 5 billion years

Life on Earth may be wiped out within the next five billion years, but Professor Leen Decin with Belgium's KU Leuven Institute of Astronomy questions if the planet itself will still be able to survive afterwards.

She is quoted in a recent press release as saying, "...the fate of the Earth is still uncertain. We already know that our Sun will be bigger and brighter, so that it will probably destroy any form of life on our planet. But will the Earth's rocky core survive the red giant phase and continue orbiting the white dwarf?"

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Decin's query is a result of research conducted by her and an international team of scientists.

They found that the sun will likely expand into a giant red star over the next five billion years, and, two billion years after that, is expected to become "a tiny white dwarf star."

The scientists based these conclusions on a close examination of a star called L2 Puppis which is considered to represent a future model of the sun's development.