The Sun is one of the most fascinating and crucial stars in our Solar System. In fact, it accounts for over 99.95% of the total mass, and as such forms at the center of this system. It is without doubt, an essential source of energy for all life on Earth.
With its critical importance, you may be keen to learn about its eventual fate and what the impact will be to us here on Earth. You may have many questions, and this article today will aim to address some of those.
So, Will The Sun Become A Black Hole? The short answer is no – the Sun will not become a Black Hole. This is because, as a Star, the Sun is too small and does not generate enough gravitational pull to cause this kind of astronomical event. It is Stars much larger than the Sun that explode as a Supernova which leave behind Neutron Stars or a Black Hole. Instead, the Sun will become a planetary nebula leaving a remnant which is called a “White Dwarf”.
What Are Black Holes?
To understand whether or not the Sun can become a Black Hole, it is important to know what a Black Hole Actually is.
A Black Hole is a region in space that has gravitational pull so strong that no matter (including light) can evade it. Essentially, it is a huge amount of matter that is pulled together into a small area.
Black Holes typically occur when a large star dies (runs out of nuclear fuel) and explodes as a supernova. As the mass of the star is so big, it inevitably collapses in on itself due to gravity/its own weight and as all light gets absorbed, you physically cannot observe a Black Holes (invisible to the naked eye). However, some the advanced Space Telescopes used by NASA have tools designed to identify Black Holes. They look for anomalies in how stars behave which can prove as evidence of a nearby Black Hole.
Black Holes range in size, whereby scientists predict they can be as small as one atom or ‘supermassive’ (20x the mass of the sun).
Why Our Sun Will Never Become A Black Hole
Stars exist due to to an inverse relationship with their own gravity.
In any living star, there is a constant tug of war between it’s gravity pulling the matter in and the internal pressure pushing it out.
This means the star will neither expand nor collapse – it remains constant.
This is the situation that the Sun finds itself in at present.
When a star runs out of its fuel source, this internal pressure is overcome by the gravity which results in a collapsing.
However, there is actually another type of pressure which limits or prevents a star from collapsing. This is called the Electron Degenerate Pressure (EDP).
Put simply, the star cannot collapse because when the electrons are squeezed into a finely packed space, more pressure is exerted out.
In smaller stars like our Sun, once the nuclear fuel is exhausted (which will take billions of years to happen), this Electron Degenerate Pressure will prevent the collapse.
What Is The Fate Of The Sun
Instead of becoming a Black hole, the Sun will eventually (in around 4.5 billion years) run out of fuel (Hydrogen, Helium) and will collapse and transition into a Red Giant. From there, with the removal of the outer layers it will settle as a small dense shining hot object. When a star undertakes this fate it becomes a White Dwarf. This is essentially a small dense ball of Carbon and Oxygen that does not produce any nuclear energy, yet shines due to its temperature.
After a period of time and cooling (trillions of years), this will then evolve once more and become a Black Dwarf.