Top 10 Ways Space Could Destroy Civilization As We Know It

Solar Expansion

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At the center of our solar system is an extraordinary little star. It’s close enough to stop the oceans from freezing but just far enough away to stop them from turning into deserts and boiling us through.

As remarkable as this star is to us, it’s actually just a normal yellow dwarf star in its main phase of life. During this stable stage, hydrogen atoms at its core fuse together into helium atoms and produce the solar radiation that both lights and warms our planet.

Sadly, as with all good things, this must come to an end. At about 4.5 billion years old, our Sun only has half of its hydrogen left.

As the fuel runs out, the Sun’s core shrinks, causing the outer layers to be pulled inward by the stronger gravitational force. To stay stable, the Sun’s core temperature rises and the outer layers expand.

Eventually, the Sun will expand into a new stage of life—the Red Giant—evaporating the oceans, burning humankind to a crisp, and finally swallowing the Earth.

Losing The Moon

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The Moon is drifting away from Earth at a rate of 3.8 centimeters (1.5 in) every year. Though it’s impossible for it to move away entirely, this begs the question: What if our Moon disappeared?

Picture it: A giant, Earth-destroying asteroid heads this way but hits the Moon instead. What would happen then?

Well, as the largest gravitational pull nearby, the Moon’s dust would reform and collect around the Earth in rings (just like Saturn’s). Meteorites would break off these rings, constantly slamming into the Earth’s surface and destroying anything in their path.

The loss of the Moon’s gravitational pull would also have terrible effects on climate and weather. Tidal drag from the Moon slows our planet’s rotation. Without it, days would become 10 hours long and the Earth would tilt a further 60 degrees, plunging our steady seasons into turmoil.

‘Shooting Stars’

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A “shooting star” usually refers to the luminous gas trail left by meteors as they burn up in the atmosphere. But real shooting stars do exist. That’s right, burning balls of gas flying freely across the universe do exist.

This occurs when the velocity of a star is so great that it’s able to leave its galaxy, traveling freely across the universe at tens of thousands of kilometers per second.

These huge balls of nuclear power burn through everything in their path and destroy the delicate balance of the planetary orbits they pass. Luckily for Earth, only around a dozen of these hypervelocity stars have ever been discovered.

The chances of actually encountering one in our vast universe are tiny. Of course, that won’t stop one from obliterating us if it did decide to shoot through our solar system.

Bye Bye Hydrogen

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As the universe ages into its golden years, the cosmic landscape will look quite different. Just like our Sun, the majority of stars in the universe are slowly burning through their fuel and will eventually crumble into nothing but carbon.

Bigger stars become supernovas, or maybe even neutron stars or black holes, but even these will evaporate or reform to make smaller stars with the same fate.

Once all the free hydrogen has been used up, there will be no more fuel to create new stars and the universe will be left in total darkness. It will also be below freezing cold, -273 degrees Celsius (-459 °F) or absolute zero to be precise. Under these conditions, no life could possibly survive. Thankfully, by this point, we’ll all have been gone for billions of years.

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