By Pierre-Yves Bely
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Additional resources for A Question and Answer Guide to Astronomy
36 How old is the Sun? Several different methods can be used to determine the age of the Sun. ) formed as a coeval unit (Q. 33). The Sun is therefore at least as old as the planets, asteroids, comets, and other objects in the solar system. 55 billion years old (Q. 81), hence, the Sun must be at least that old. A second method employs the theoretical model of star formation and nuclear combustion, which relates a star’s age to its temperature, luminosity, and mass (Q. 11). This model has been verified for hundreds of stars of different types, including those very much like the Sun, which is a rather average star.
It will remain the closest for another 33 000 years, but as it is moving away from us relatively quickly, it will then be replaced by another star, Ross 248. 30 Between stars that die and stars that are born, is the population of our galaxy growing or shrinking? The current world population is a little under 7 billion human souls. At 100 billion, the number of stars in our galaxy might appear quite enormous (Q. 4) relative to that. But while the number of human births is approximately 130 million per year, the rate of star formation in the Galaxy is much lower by comparison: the equivalent of about four solar masses, or about seven new stars per year (with more small stars than medium or large ones being born) .
In civilian power implementations, the whole difficulty resides in controlling the conditions of temperature and density required. ” Two methods are currently being studied: inertial laser confinement and magnetic confinement. The latter was adopted by the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) project. The technologies involved are very complex and industrial production is not expected to be reached for at least another 30 years. † Even if, in practice, it appears preferable to use deuterium instead of hydrogen: although the energy production is lower, deuterium has an extra neutron so that the atom is bigger and therefore an easier target to bombard.