Artist rendering of Mars slamming into Earth  (Source: J Vidal-Madjar)
Earth may face chaotic end in 5 billion years

Research being conducted by French scientists indicates eventual destabilization of Mercury could cause a major impact between Earth and Mars.  The research was carried out by two French scientists who reportedly used "arcane mathematical" models to help predict the next five billion years of the galaxy.

Running a computer simulation of 2,501 different scenarios of various planets in the Earth's solar system, Mercury's orbit was disrupted, causing a domino effect that led to Earth, Venus and Mars also suffering from solar system disruption.  The 2,501 scenarios were over the next five billion years, noting that the solar system is 99 percent likely to continue to operate the exact same way as today without a hiccup.

"You first need Mercury to be destabilized by gravitational interaction with Jupiter, then this may destabilize Mars, which then can come very close to Earth," French researcher Jacques Laskar said during an interview with  "Only then can you have destabilization of Venus' orbit and a collision with the Earth."

It's possible the inner planets will individually smash into one another, or a chaotic event in which the four planets smash into one another.  There is still a 99-to-1 chance that the inner planets of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars will be fine throughout the entire 5 billion years.

The French Paris Observatory's Laskar and Mickael Gastineau predict a chaotic event in 5 billion years, which is the same time frame some experts believe the sun will have used up all of its hydrogen and will enter a cooler state.  Once in a cooler state, however, the sun will begin to inflate into a red giant star capable of sucking all the inner planets into the sun.

The Earth, if it isn't sucked towards the sun, could actually end up being shot directly out of the solar system, researchers claim.

The "gas giants" located in the outer system, comprised of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, are much more stable when orbiting around the sun, and could be safe from destruction for up to a billion years.

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