What Would Happen If The Sun Disappeared?

sun-disappeared-infographicIf the Sun were somehow to disappear, we all know we’d be in big trouble.  Life on Earth would swiftly become impossible.  But for you science types, I’ve found a graphic that describes exactly what would happen and when.

Of course, we’re far enough away that, even at the speed of light, nothing would happen for about eight minutes.  But the first thing to go would be the Sun’s gravitational pull; all the planets would go their merry way through space.

Next, after about nine minutes or so, we would be in total darkness.  A byproduct of this would be our Moon would be invisible with no reflected sunlight.

In a few days, temperatures would have cooled from the current 300 degrees on the Kelvin scale to 150 Kelvin in two months and 50 Kelvin in four months.  (Water freezes at 273 Kelvin.)  Microorganisms would have the best bet at surviving on heat from the Earth’s core.  Our only chance would be in submarines deep in the oceans.  But that would be temporary because the oceans would eventually freeze.  The surfaces would ice over in about two months, but, due to the Earth’s internal heat and the insulating properties of ice, it would probably take at least a thousand years before the oceans froze solid.  The final act would be the atmosphere collapsing, which would also take at least a thousand years.

Ironically, the living creatures who might hang on the longest would probably be large trees.  Even without photosynthesis, they could survive for several decades.

So I guess the moral is to enjoy the Sun while we can.

The original graphic is on the EarthSky website — http://earthsky.org/space/what-would-happen-if-sun-disappeared-infographic

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