Planets Play a Risky Game of Mafia

By: ALEXIS GILLEY

Dead planets, such as Mercury can not sustain life, but maybe one day they could. What makes a dead planet? Without an atmosphere and water a planet is impossible to sustain life thus it being a dead planet. When a planet dies it doesn’t disappear like many people assume, it suffers a millennia in hostile environment conditions. 

Sean Raymond, a planetary modeler says, “Planets die all the time right in our galactic neighborhood.” Many planets exist for a long time but can never live forever. So how do they die? One of the things that keep earth running so well is the climate cycle. Temperature is regulated by carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses creating the greenhouse effect, slowing how fast the sun’s radiation escapes. This warms the planet causing rain, which removes some carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and deposits in carbonate rocks on the seafloor, this is when the planet cools. If carbon dioxide assembles faster then deposited in rocks, temperatures could rise above the boiling point of water, which can allow the atmosphere to escape into space. 

Volcanoes can either save or harm a planet. If a planet is too cold volcanoes release a huge amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that will help to warm up the earth. The smoke and ash however, can cover the sky, blocking the sun’s radiation and cooling off the planet to unwanted temperatures. If a planet has snowball conditions(continues to cool down) and has no tectonics, there are no volcanoes to warm up the planet. 

The earth itself is expected to last 7.5 billion years until the fuel in the core of the sun runs out in 5 billion years, and begins to die, which happens to be a quite common way for planets to die. It will swell up into a red giant, draining oceans from earth. This could also create habitable planets that are further away and normally frozen. When talking about the evolution of life on other planets when the sun becomes a red giant. Planetary scientist Alan Stern says, “Late in the life of the sun — in the red giant phase — the Kuiper Belt will be a metaphorical Miami Beach.” Earth is expected to be wiped out long before the sun becomes a red giant, with as little as a billion years left. Due to the sun already constantly growing brighter, before long the radiation will be too much for human life. So for now, it’s a dead planet mafia.

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