Start packing your bags. Researchers at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom have determined that Earth will become inhabitable in 1.75 billion to 3.25 billion years’ time.
As stars age, they burn brighter, radiating more heat. Just a few billion years into the future, the scientists said, our Sun will be so hot that Earth’s oceans will evaporate, making impossible for plants, animals and humans to live here.
Writing in the journal Astrobiology, the research team noted that conditions for humans and other complex life will disintegrate much sooner, with only microbes in niche environments lingering on Earth at the end.
"It will get progressively hotter, and there's nothing we can do about it," lead researcher Andrew Rushby, based at the School of Environmental Studies at UEA, said.
We can, however, decamp to Mars, which will be a balmy temperature by then. “It’s very close and will remain in the habitable zone until the end of the Sun’s lifetime – six billion years from now,” Rusby said.
"If we are still around, and the optimist in me likes to think we would be, I hope we'd be away from the Earth, perhaps on Mars, or spread out in a huge galactic family across the Milky Way," he added.
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The scientists did not work on this study to depress the public about Earth’s inescapable demise, but to develop a tool to help determine which other planets in the galaxy are likely to host advanced alien life.
“Of course, much of evolution is down to luck, so this isn’t concrete, but we know that complex, intelligent species like humans could not emerge after only a few million years because it took us 75 percent of the entire habitable lifetime of this planet to evolve,” Rusby said. “We think it will probably be a similar story elsewhere.”