Earth’s time in the sun’s habitable zone is limited, though it will be a long time before humans have to search for another planet.
According to a new study the Earth will likely be habitable for another two billion years, as long as an asteroid, climate change, or another cataclysm doesn’t happen first.
The new study, lead by Andrew Rushby at England’s University of East Anglia, suggests that life will cease to exist on Earth between 1.75 and 3.25 billion years from now.
The Huffington Post reports that Rushby added, “Of course, conditions for humans and other complex life will become impossible much sooner — and this is being accelerated by anthropogenic climate change.”
The Earth is currently inside our sun’s habitable zone, meaning that liquid water can exist on its surface. However, that won’t always be the case, notes MSN News.
As the sun gets older, it also gets warmer, meaning the habitable zone moves farther away. In the next two to three billion years, Earth will move into the sun’s hot zone, where liquid water, and therefore life, cannot exist on its surface.
While it’s interesting to know when Earth will leave the habitable zone, it’s worth noting humans likely won’t last that long. This is because of climate change, which could mean the end of life on Earth before 2 billion years pass by.
Rushby’s research wasn’t aimed at finding out Earth’s end. Instead, he explained it is meant to find a way to measure how habitable Earth-like planets outside our solar system are. In order to understand this, scientists need to know how the habitable zone changes as a star evolves.
Should humans outlive the Earth’s habitable zone status, scientists believe that Mars would be the “best bet” for our race to seek a new place to live. The Red Planet will remain habitable until the sun dies — in about six billion years.
[Image via ShutterStock]