This picture gives us earthlings an idea of what the Sun will look like in around 5 billion years, when it will effectively start coming to the end of its life.
The image shows the star HD 184738, otherwise known as Campbell’s hydrogen star. It is seen surrounded by a plume of reddish gas, including hydrogen and nitrogen.
Situated at the heart of a small planetary nebula (an interstellar cloud of dust and gas) HD 184738 is a sun-like star currently going through the process of ridding itself of its outer layers.
The Sun will eventually go through a similar process, blowing off much of its material, which could reach as far as Earth’s orbit, leaving in its wake the remains of the planets in our solar system.
All that will likely remain of it is a small, dense core called a white dwarf.