Sep 19, 2013 07:43 AM EDT
‘We Still Have 1.75 Billion Years to Enjoy Earth’s Treasures,’ UK Study
Habitable conditions on planet Earth will persist for at least another 1.75 billion years and perhaps as much as 3.5 billion years, according to a new study conducted by astrobiologists at the University of East Anglia (UEA). The findings are published in the journal Astrobiology.
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The researchers determined the Earth's lifespan based on the rate of rising temperatures of the Sun.
The scientists claim that beyond this projected time, life on Earth will not be able to survive due to the high temperatures of the Sun, which will eventually lead to drying up of seas and destruction of all the possible life forms.
"After this point, the Earth would be in the hot zone of the Sun, with temperatures so high that the seas would evaporate. We would see a catastrophic and terminal extinction event for all life,"said Andrew Rushby, a researcher at the university.
They also said that since its existence, the planet has been located at the right distance from the Sun to make it fit for human habitation. The temperature is neither too hot to cause evaporation of water nor is it too cold to freeze the oceans into permanent ice.
However, the habitable period cannot last long as the stars become hotter over time. As the stars release more heat, any surface water on nearby planets dries up. At the time, the Earth will have shifted out of the habitable zone to the 'hot zone' of the Sun.
Rushby said that humans would be the first species that will cease to exist, well before the 1.75 billion-year predicted time.
'Humans would be in trouble with even a small increase in temperature and near the end only microbes in niche environments would be able to endure the heat,' said Rushby.
"To date, no true Earth analogue planet has been detected. But it is possible that there will be a habitable Earth-like planet within ten light years, which is very close in astronomical terms. However, reaching it would take hundreds of thousands of years with our current technology."
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"If we ever needed to move to another planet, Mars is probably our best bet. It's very close and will remain in the habitable zone until the end of the Sun's lifetime - six billion years from now."