Scientist Determine Life on Earth Will Last 1.75 Billion Years

Sep 19, 2013 04:01 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

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A NASA Earth Observatory handout of a composite image of Earth at night. (Photo : Reuters)

Scientists have determined that, unless something drastic occurs, Earth will survive at least another 1.75 billion years.

A team of British researchers from the University of East Anglia have developed a model for determining how long a specific planet can survive in its sun's habitable zone.

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"Toward the end of a planet's [habitable zone] lifetime, steadily increasing stellar luminosity is likely to result in a runaway greenhouse event, which would represent a catastrophic and terminal extinction event for any surface biosphere present on the planet," said the researchers in the paper.

A planets habitable zone, or "Goldilocks zone" as it's referred to, is the area located around a star where liquid water could be sustained on a planet, according to a study published about the team's findings in the journal Astrobiology.

Click here to read the paper.

The researchers determined Earth will leave the sun's habitable zone in 1.75 billion to 3.25 billion years. Once Earth leaves and gets closer to the sun, it will dramatically increase in temperature causing oceans to evaporate.

"We used stellar evolution models to estimate the end of a planet's habitable lifetime by determining when it will no longer be in the habitable zone," said lead researcher Andrew Rushby, from the university's school of environmental sciences in a press statement. "We estimate that Earth will cease to be habitable somewhere between 1.75 and 3.25 billion years from now."

When Earth exits the habitable zone, Rushby believes Mars may be the next best place for people from Earth to go to. Mars will be in the sun's habitable zone for 6 billion years.

Rushby did warn citizens of Earth that climate change and other dramatic factors could eventually cause a "catastrophic and terminal extinction event for all life" much earlier than predicted.

"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 in a press statement.

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