Will our Sun Become a Black Hole – Ever??

Last updated on September 25th, 2020 at 02:09 am

will-our-sun-become-a-black-hole

Black Holes: perhaps is the most fascinating creature of the universe. I mean, even a non-science student have at least heard about black holes.

Today’s question is, will our sun become a black hole when it dies? A BIG NO. The only star of the solar system i.e the sun will never become a black hole. I will tell you why…!!!!

Well, if you want the answer in a one-liner, then the exact answer will be because of its mass.

On the other hand, if you are curious enough to know each and every detail on why our sun will never become a black hole when it dies; then stay with me till the end of this article.

I promise I won’t bore you. Jokes apart, I will also tell you the eventual fate of our sun when it dies in a very detailed manner. So are you ready? Let’s go for a ride….!!!

 

Will Our Sun Become A Black Hole – Ever??

One of the harshest truths about this existence is that “whatever is born, must die at some point”. Whether it is me, you, or anything you name has to die one day.

Even Einstein died man…!!! So is the eventual faith of our sun. It also has to die at some point in the very far future.

Now the question arises, that what will happen when the sun dies? But before going ahead, I should give you a brief on How do stars die?

 

How do stars die?

Crab-nebula-is-the-remnant-of-a-stellar-explosion-that-was-seen-in-the-year-1054-AD
M1, the Crab Nebula, is the remnant of a stellar explosion that was seen in the year 1054 AD. The colors in the image were assigned to distinguish various chemical elements, which are now all racing into space to enrich new generations of stars/Credit: NASA

Death of a star can only happen when a star runs out of its nuclear fuel. For a star to be called a star, it has to be able to perform nuclear fusion reaction in its core.

I mean, without nuclear fusion; a star neither will be glowing nor will be producing an enormous amount of energy.

Therefore, when the core of a star runs out of its fuel, it becomes impotent to produce enough heat and pressure to protect itself from gravitational collapse.

As a result of gravitational collapse, its outer layer explodes into a supernova, leaving behind its stellar corpse. The remnant corpse of a giant star can form three different kinds of cosmic bodies.

A star can become a black hole or a neutron star. Or simply it can become a tiny white dwarf. So, now you have an idea that how our sun will die. Therefore, moving forward to solve the quest about the eventual fate of our sun.

 

Will The Sun Become A Black Hole?

Can the sun become a black hole when it dies? NO, our sun will never become a black hole when it dies. As I said in the introductory paragraph that just because of its small mass, our sun will never become a black hole.

Well, for a star to become a black hole, its mass should be greater than 29.0 solar masses. And as far as our star the sun is concerned, its mass is exactly 1.0 solar mass.

most-distant-supermassive-black-hole-ever-discovered
an artistic image showing a supermassive type of black hole that our sun will never become/Credit: Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science

See, for a star to become a black hole, it basically has to overcome two quantum mechanical phenomena.

First, when a giant star runs out of its nuclear fuel, it has to overcome electron degeneracy pressure. This degeneracy pressure is basically responsible for the formation of a dwarf star out of a remnant star.

Second, it also has to overcome neutron degeneracy pressure which is responsible for the formation of a neutron star.

Therefore for a star like our star the sun with exactly 1 solar mass, it will never be able to overcome these two quantum mechanical phenomena to become a black hole.

So the final answer is – NO. Our sun will never become a black hole. I hope now you know why won’t our sun ever become a black hole…!!!

 

Will The Sun Become A Neutron Star?

Well, for a star to become a neutron star, its mass should be in the range of 10.0 to 29.0 solar masses. And from that, you can see that our sun will never become a neutron star too.

If I talk in the language of physics, for a star to become a neutron star, it has to overcome only one quantum mechanical phenomena i.e Electron degeneracy pressure.

When the stellar core of the giant star runs out of its fuel, it just has to overcome electron degeneracy pressure which is responsible for the formation of dwarf stars.

neutron-star-about-to-explode
an artistic representation of neutron star that our sun will never become/Credit: NASA/Dana Berry

And when it does, the electron degeneracy pressure will become impotent to overcome the effect of gravity. Therefore, as a direct consequence of that, electrons will merge into protons to form neutrons.

Hence, a super-dense neutron star is born. Here, neutron degeneracy pressure will counterbalance the gravitational force. Therefore, protect the newly formed neutron star from further collapsing and forming a black hole.

Hence, for a star like our star the sun with exactly 1 solar mass, it will never be able to overcome electron degeneracy pressure to become a neutron star. So the final answer is – NO. Our sun will never become a neutron star.

 

Will The Sun Become A White Dwarf?

Well, for a star to become a white dwarf, its mass should be in the range of 0.07 to 10.0 solar masses. And, with that information, you know that the eventual fate of our sun is to become a white dwarf.

Here, electron degeneracy pressure will counterbalance the gravitational force. Hence, protect the newly formed white dwarf from further collapsing and forming a neutron star.

The formation principle of a white dwarf can be classified into three groups. Well, in this article, I can’t go into that much detail. You can check this article for further detailed information about the journey of a star to a white dwarf.

All I can tell you here is that our star the sun comes in the category of medium-sized stars i.e from 0.5 to 8.0 solar masses.

On the other hand, if I talk in the language of physics, currently our sun is labeled as a G-type main-sequence star. In fact, most of the stars in our universe come in the category of main-sequence star i.e fusing hydrogen into helium in its core.

When the sun will run out of its hydrogen fuel, it will start fusing helium into heavy metals (oxygen, carbon, etc) via the triple-alpha process.

cocoon-like-structure-of-a-new-white-dwarf
in a similar fashion, our sun will explode to form a white dwarf/Credit: NASA/R. Ciardullo (PSU)/H. Bond (STScI)

And when that happens, the sun’s temperature will exponentially increase. Therefore, the outer layer of the sun’s atmosphere will expand enough to engulf all the terrestrial planets including earth; becoming a red giant.

I mean, when the sun’s core will eventually run out of its helium fuel. Its outer layer, composed of helium and hydrogen will blast off causing a supernova; leaving behind a white dwarf.

Therefore, for a star like our sun with exactly 1 solar mass will finally become a white dwarf completely made up of heavy elements like oxygen, carbon, etc. So the final answer is YES. The eventual fate of our sun is to become a white dwarf.

But frankly speaking, it has nothing to do with us. I mean, all this process to become a reality will take more than 5 billion years from now. So just chill.

 

A Quick Recap

Our sun will never become a black hole. The eventual fate of our sun is to become a white dwarf. The mass of our sun is not massive enough to become a black hole or even a neutron star.

For a star to become a black hole, its mass should be above 29.0 solar masses. Similarly, for a star to become a neutron star, its mass should be in the range of 10.0 to 29.0 solar masses.

And for a star to become a tiny white dwarf, its mass should be in the range of 0.07 to 10.0 solar masses. Our star the sun comes in the range of medium-sized stars (0.5 to 8.0 solar masses). That’s why the corpse of the sun (a white dwarf) will be solely made up of carbon and oxygen.

And, then the white dwarf will take another billion of years to cool down completely by releasing its leftover heat, and finally become a black dwarf.

Well, black dwarfs are hypothetical ones. What do you think? What would be the eventual fate of a white dwarf??? Enlighten me with your superior intellect in the comment section.

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About Atul Sinha

I am a mechanical engineer by profession. Just because of my love for fundamental physics, I switched my carrier, and therefore I just completed my postgraduate degree in physics. Right now I am a loner (as like ever) and a Physics blogger too. My sole future goal is to do a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, especially in the field of cosmology. Because in my view, every part of physics comes within the range of cosmology. And I love traveling, especially the Sole one.

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