A common question amongst astronomers is the long term fate amongst some of our planets. Of course, our greatest concern is for our planet Earth, as there are those that say our planet will meet it’s demise in the distant future.
However, between us and the Sun are two other planets, Venus and the planet Mercury. With Mercury being the closer of the two, and the smallest planet (there are actually some moons that are even bigger than Mercury!), it makes sense for us to ask the question of whether Mercury will ever crash into the Sun. So, let’s take a look at some theories about this matter.
Will Mercury crash into the Sun one day?
Luckily with the technology that we have at hand nowadays, we can actually play out how things will progress in our solar system over the coming billions of years.
Why isn’t Mercury pulled into the Sun?
Many people wonder why Mercury isn’t pulled into the Sun at all. It’s a very small planet, so why hasn’t it just been pulled in by the Sun’s gravitational pull and consumed already? Well, the answer to this is that Mercury is actually in stable orbit around the Sun. There’s no definition to how long a stable orbit will last – it could be a billion years or a trillion years, or indefinitely.
I mean technically the planets are moving into the Sun, but the velocity of the planet prevents it from going into the Sun, and creates the elliptical orbit instead.
Mercury crashing into Venus
In some scenarios, the planets Mercury and Venus actually ended up colliding with each other. Of course, if you could imagine seeing this from the planet Earth it would be amazing to watch! However, we aren’t sure of the effects this may have on the solar system overall.
Will Mercury hit Earth?
The good news is that through more than 20 different simulations of the future of Mercury, there was no situation where the planet Mercury collided with our planet, Earth. However, this is all hypothetical and anything remains a possibility. Of course, this is in the distant future, when the human race will likely be extinct.
However, the Sun may eat us all
The most likely scenario is that in the future, the Sun will actually continue to grow and grow in size. First, it will consume Mercury, then Venus and us, Earth.
Remember that the Sun is just a star, just like all of the other stars up there in the night sky. This means that all that we have learned about the other stars we can apply to our own giant star. Stars continue to grow throughout their lifetime, and by comparing our Sun to other stars, we know that it’s still not anywhere near done growing.
The Sun will continue to grow and become more luminous in years to come. Astronomers estimate that in the next few years, it’s very likely that eventually our Earth and Mercury will both have been consumed by the Sun.
All in all, it does seem that eventually the planet Mercury will be the first to meet it’s demise by crashing into the Sun. However, it isn’t just Mercury that will meet this fate, and eventually the rest of the planets may too.
This will be billions of years in the future, and the human race will almost certainly be extinct by then. So although it’s not anything to worry about, it sure is interesting!