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Naked Science - Death of the Sun

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Published on Dec 7, 2016

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The Sun is the most powerful force in our solar system. It generates the heat and light that sustains us. Without it we wouldn’t have life on Earth. But the Sun is violent and volatile and is becoming more dangerous as it ages.

Naked Science explores the life and death of the Sun. We explore what will happen in the future as the Sun ages, and how our lives linked to the Sun’s life cycle.

Firstly we want to understand how the Sun was created from a giant cloud of dust and gas. Scientists pretty much agree on the theory but physical evidence is hard to come by. Naked Science meets scientists at Johnson Space Center who have been working on a ten year mission to bring a piece of the Sun back to Earth. How do scientists collect samples of the Sun when a probe could never get near the Sun’s surface? We follow NASA’s dare devil mission to capture the samples.

Today we rely on the Sun to live. It’s energy fuels trees and plants which are essential for the food chain we all depend upon. But how do we get the energy? Naked Science explores the incredible journey that the particles of light from the Sun have to make to earth to deliver their energy.

How old is the Sun? This is a question which has fascinated scientists for a long time. Scientists have now established the Sun’s age with the aid of one remarkable fact that the Sun sings. We visit Big Bear Solar Observatory in California to meet one of the scientists who has been at the forefront of using the Sun’s sounds to determine its age.

The Sun’s warmth and light helped life on Earth to begin but it can also play havoc with our modern way of life. Billions of tons of plasma erupting from the sun send powerful storms hurtling through our solar system. We visit the Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colorado where they try to predict the sun’s violent moods. 1989 brought one of the most dramatic space storms and Naked Science uncovers the events which took place on the Earth. But what lies behind the explosive events on the Sun. We travel to the California Institute of Technology in Los Angeles where they are trying to understand the science behind the explosions by creating them in the laboratory.

But what about the risks of solar storms to astronauts in Space? Naked Science meets Michael Foale who was directly in the line of fire on the International Space Station during the intense solar activity in 2003. There is one solar event astronauts can’t be protected from. A superflare. Superflares are up to 10 million times more energetic than the most powerful solar flares. Naked Science journeys to Louisiana to meet an astrophysicist who has found evidence of nine stars that have experienced superflares. What if our sun ever produced a superflare, what would happen to life on earth?

We know when the sun was born, how it nurtured us and how it has thrown a fair amount of danger our way. But how and when will it die and will the Earth survive?

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