Astronomers estimate the Sun has about 7 billion to 8 billion years left before it sputters and dies. But before that, in about 5 billion years, the Sun will run out of hydrogen. Throughout history, natural phenomena have affected the Sun’s ability to reach and warm the Earth.
What would happen if the Sun disappeared or exploded? The Sun is the closest star to Earth. Sun’s light hits the planet’s surface, warming it enough for living organisms to develop and live. Plants convert solar energy into chemical energy. They give us oxygen to breathe.
What would happen if the Sun exploded?
Look at this hypothetical situation and imagine what living on Earth without the Sun would be like. The Sun is 93 million miles away from Earth, and it takes 8 minutes for light from the Sun to reach the Earth’s surface. After the Sun exploded, this news would take 8 minutes to get to us.
- Einstein’s theory of relativity suggests that gravity travels at the speed of light.
So after those initial eight and a half minutes, there won’t be any gravitational force to hold the earth in a particular orbit. It will fly away into the solar system into endless space in a straight line at the speed of 18 miles per second. After that earth would start to fly in a straight line. That’s when mass panic would probably begin.
Within the first 24 hours, widespread panic ensues, social upheaval, and society breaks down. After the Sun wins, the media and the internet will flood with a bazillion theories about what’s happening. It’s the end of the world!
If the Sun were to explode, the consequences for our solar system and Earth would be catastrophic. Here’s a general overview of what would happen:
Immediate Effects: The explosion of the Sun, known as a supernova, would release an enormous amount of energy in the form of light, heat, and high-energy radiation. The intense burst of energy would engulf the entire solar system almost instantaneously.
Disruption of Planetary Orbits: The sudden loss of the Sun’s gravitational pull would cause the planets in our solar system, including Earth, to lose their stable orbits. Without the Sun’s gravitational force to keep them in check, the planets would be sent hurtling into space in various directions.
Loss of Solar Radiation: As the Sun explodes, the primary source of solar radiation, including heat and light, would be obliterated. This would result in the immediate and complete darkness of the solar system.
Extreme Temperature Fluctuations: Without the Sun’s heat, temperatures in the solar system would rapidly plummet to extremely low levels. The temperature drop would be severe, making it nearly impossible for life as we know it to survive.
Collapse of the Solar System: The explosion of the Sun would likely cause a shockwave that could disrupt the delicate balance of the solar system. Planets and other celestial bodies would be subjected to intense gravitational forces and could potentially collide with one another or be ejected into interstellar space.
Disintegration of Earth: Earth’s atmosphere would dissipate into space with the Sun’s gravitational pull loss. The planet’s surface would freeze and eventually disintegrate due to the extreme cold and lack of atmospheric pressure.
After the explosion of the Sun
Scientists have already modeled this situation to learn about the consequences of such a potential explosion. The results showed that the star would not explode like an ordinary bomb. The force of gravity will prevent it from expanding instantly. In such a scenario, a simple increase in the temperature of the Sun’s core will cause a vast amount of radiation to flood the Earth.
- Ultraviolet rays will damage our unprotected eyes and also cause skin cancer.
At the first time, the temperature will continue to rise until it reaches 60 degrees Celsius or 140 Fahrenheit or even much higher. However, the Sun will destroy most living things under any of these scenarios.
- A temperature increase in the core will still lead to an explosion.
In this case, the sky will be covered with white fire and light at night. Such a fireworks show will likely be too bright for human eyes. So most people will go blind.
The power of this solar blast will be equivalent to the explosion of several octillion nuclear warheads. After that, a stream of hot plasma will flood through space. When it reaches the earth, the temperature will rise sharply. Water from the oceans will evaporate quite quickly. The world will turn into something like a giant steam bath.
Many fires will erupt all over the planet, and mighty storms will fan the flames. The storms will arise due to the temperature difference after the explosion and may exceed a speed of 1,000 kilometers or 620 miles an hour. In other words, the speed of the vortices on Earth will exceed even the infamous hurricanes of Jupiter. It can reach approximately 600 kilometers or 370 miles an hour.
Unbelievably strong winds will raise clouds of dust and sand into the atmosphere triggering monstrous tsunamis. Millions of people will be washed away into the sea by hurricanes. Many others will be trapped under the rubble of skyscrapers.
Perhaps people will try to hide from this onslaught of natural disasters in Bunkers. But they will also die when the Sun’s red hot plasma reaches the earth. Earth will also be thrown from its orbit, speeding away from the Sun. It may well collide with another planet and smash into a billion pieces.
After the disappearance of the Sun
Life would start decomposing, bringing on the collapse of the entire food web. Within the same week, the planet’s surface temperature would drop, which is survivable now. But the universe is a prominent and cold place where the ambient temperature of space is around minus 273 degrees Celsius. It means it will only get colder and colder after a month.
Extremely cold climates such as the Arctic will rapidly become unbearable. If the Sun destroys while it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere, humans and other life dying off would accelerate. As the earth’s poles cooled, the overall atmospheric height would drop as density grew.
Strong winds begin to blow towards the equator worldwide as the atmosphere drops. These winds would grow colder and disrupt the jet stream, creating strong ground-level currents. The water vapor in our atmosphere condenses, and snow in most regions. Many places would be hit with blizzards. In addition to cold, wild weather, the atmosphere would separate into its component gasses by density.
The higher-density elements would drift to ground level, and the lower-density gases would rise, thus disrupting the amount of breathable air available. Living near the ocean is helpful, as the water will slow the surface cooling in your region.
Another concern is CO2. The CO2 in low concentrations is a physiologically important gas, but at high concentrations, it is toxic. You’d become drowsy at one percent of air, but greater than 10 percent would lead to convulsions, coma, and death.
The biggest problem would be photosynthesis loss, which makes up 99.9 percent of Earth’s natural productivity. The process would eventually cease in about 24 hours. Without the Sun, plants would not produce food, absorb carbon dioxide, and give off life-sustaining oxygen. So plants would no longer be able to produce life-sustaining oxygen. It might sound like a serious issue, but it isn’t collectively all living humans, all insects. All animals would still have enough oxygen to breathe for another thousand years.
As much of a problem as the cold is that crops, most plant life, would rapidly die. The majority of plants would be dead within a few weeks. Large healthy trees could survive for several decades without photosynthesis due to slow metabolism and substantial sugar stores.
However, that assumes the trees wouldn’t be decimated for food or kindling. Plants are autotrophs or primary food chain producers, so herbivores would quickly follow as they die off. Then they would be followed by carnivores. Assuming they could survive in the cold, scavengers would hang on a little longer.
Larger trees and plants could survive longer depending on how much food the tree or large plant had stored. Some trees can live from 6 months to a year in the cold and dark. But eventually, without the Sun, the surviving trees would freeze and turn into ice. Animals that depended on plant matter to survive, like cows, goats, horses, and other grazing animals, would run out of food first.
Like lions, bears, tigers, and other meat-eating creatures, Carnivores will surely live longer, feeding off the herbivores weakened by cold and starvation. It would be dependent if those carnivores could survive the dropping temperatures all across the globe. But most carnivores like wolves and bears can survive freezing temperatures. Fish in shallow lakes or rivers will likely die, and those lakes and streams will start to freeze over with ice.
It would be extremely cold without any source of heat. Earth would cool down very quickly within the first week. The earth would be about 32 degrees Fahrenheit or zero degrees Celsius. The organisms living in the deep ocean that don’t need sunlight will thrive for billions of years until the water becomes ice.
- By the end of the first year without the Sun, it would be so cold that the only way for us and other organisms to survive would be to go underground as deep as possible.
The closer you live to the core, the better your chances, but that would involve a lot of digging. The extreme temperatures on the surface of oceans would become a giant skating rink. Liquid water would continue to exist at the bottom of oceans. In this case, the ice would melt.
- For billions of years, it wouldn’t freeze because the Earth’s core would still be very hot.
- After a year without Sun, the temperature would be negative 150 degrees Fahrenheit (-101 Celsius).
Over time the earth would become an ice planet. Rivers, lakes, and oceans would freeze on the surface. The water underneath would remain liquid for thousands of years, insulated by the surface ice, depending on the depth.
Solar system breakdown
Sun is the center of the solar system. The Earth and the other planets and their moons revolve around the Sun. This happens because of the strong gravitational pull from the Sun’s incredible mass, which equals 99.86 percent of the solar system’s total mass.
- The solar system travels through space simultaneously and has a velocity of about 20 kilometers per second.
Suddenly, the center point of gravity is removed from the solar system, and cataclysmic events could happen. The first thing that would fall on the earth is eternal darkness.
Another problem if the Sun suddenly vanished is that it would disrupt the orbits of the heavenly bodies in the solar system. The Sun’s gravitational mass controls orbit like planets, passing comets, etcetera would continue their forward velocity in a straight line, heading into space. It means the earth, and we’d move towards distant stars at 67,000 mph 107,826 km/ph).
Theoretically, the Earth could get caught in the gravitational pull of another star and begin orbiting it. However, that’s a process that would take several thousand years. Now that you understand some underlying issues that would occur in the long run.
Difficult to live
Most of the population dies from hypothermia, starvation, hypoxia, or violence. People will struggle to keep themselves warm and resort to firing for light. It’s possible that large cities could end up burning as fires get beyond their control. While the fires won’t accelerate because of hot conditions, too few people try to put the fires out.
People weren’t inundated with coastal flooding due to the wild weather and tidal changes. Your group emerges from hiding in a grotesque winter wonderland three days after the Sun vanishes. Most of the population is dead, and there’s always the potential for violence.
However, most of the remaining survivors are willing to work together. Many people would die from widespread panic as people fled to their homes. There would be no light except for artificial light powered by electricity. The power plants remained operational, and the people who operated them could keep them running.
- The only chance for survival would be to build an artificial temperature-controlled habitat to live in rapidly. The best bet would be to burrow into the earth and live deep underground. In most of the world, the geothermal temperature rises about 1°F per 70 feet of depth (25 °C per km) from tectonic plate boundaries.
If people could create a habitat roughly a mile (1.6 km) underground, they could live at a balmy 75.5 °F (24.1 °C) degree. That assumes they could create and maintain a society with cooperative citizens, sustainable food sources, and breathable air systems. Also, people would need good artificial light and possibly mood enhancers. Other options might be to build a habitat underwater near geothermal vents.
- 24 hours later: Pluto disappears, and Temperature begins to drop.
- After 1 week later: The global temperature drops to 0 degrees Celcius. At this point, water begins to freeze.
- 2 weeks later: Due to lack of photosynthesis, plants can no longer be consumed.
- After 3 weeks, to preserve temperature, the only way is down into the earth’s center.
One year later
After a year, the Earth’s global temperature would dip into a frosty negative 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The ocean’s top layers would have begun to freeze from the poles and out towards the equator. The top layers of ice would be incredibly thick, miles thick.
But the water nearest the earth’s core and the top layer of insulating ice will keep the oceans from freezing solid for hundreds of thousands of years. Many sea creatures that live in cold darkness would still be alive.
Those creatures are unaffected by the loss of the Sun and do not need the Sun to survive. The water at the bottom of the oceans will be insulated by miles of thick surface ice while at the same time being warned by the geothermal fence.
1,000 years later
After about 1,000 years, the planet’s global surface temperature would become stable at negative 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature at which the heat radiates from the planet’s core would equal the earth’s heat radiating into space.
When this happens, the atmosphere will freeze and fall to the earth’s surface. That would leave anyone or anything left alive exposed to harsh cosmic radiation that travels through space. Those creatures existing at the bottom of the oceans could still be alive. But by this time, humankind banded together and somehow created an underground city.
Most humans would have died from starvation or succumbed to the icy cold. Another thing to consider is that since the Earth had lost its gravity, it traveled outwards into space. During these thousands of years of traveling blindly through space, there would have been a good possibility that an asteroid or comet would have collided with Earth.
After 1 billion years
After a billion years, the earth would have traveled the distance of 100,000 light-years across the Milky Way. There is a very remote possibility that the Earth could find its way close enough to another star where it could be captured in a new orbit around this new star. The life carried with its frozen oceans could begin to evolve again.
When will the Sun die out?
The Sun’s surface is an astounding 5,800 Kelvin, hot enough to melt or vaporize any substance known to man, including diamond or graphene. Scientifically, the Sun wouldn’t stop burning and go out. When stars die, they expand.
The Sun will most likely expand into a giant red star and vaporize the solar system’s inner planets, including the Earth, as it collapses and dies. However, the Sun evolving into a red giant star will take 7 or 8 billion years, so don’t worry too much about this happening. It is estimated that in five billion years, Sun will go supernova.
Stars don’t explode for no reason. It usually happens when much more massive stars collapse and turn supernova. Its mass would have to be eight times greater to become a supernova. It will slowly expand in billions of years, turning from a yellowing. Eventually, Sun will completely absorb Mercury and Venus.
Astronomical Unit”. Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy.
Williams, D.R. “Sun Fact Sheet.” NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Zombeck, Martin V. Handbook of Space Astronomy and Astrophysics 2nd edition.
Asplund, M.; Grevesse, N.; Sauval. “The new solar abundances – Part I: the observations.” Communications in Asteroseismology.
“Eclipse 99: Frequently Asked Questions”. NASA.
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