Over the past 4.5 billion years, the Sun has provided our planet with energy. For the majority of Earth’s history, life has been able to flourish thanks to this energy. How reliant are we on the Sun? What would happen to Earth if the Sun suddenly disappeared in the short and long terms?
Well, the sudden disappearance of the Sun would have some unimaginable effects.
What would be the beginning effects?
- First, it would take eight and a half minutes for us to notice if the sun were to suddenly disappear.
- We would happily orbit the recently extinct star unaware of our imminent demise because nothing can travel faster than light, not even gravity.
- The Sun would simply disappear as the last of its rays reached the side of the earth that was in daylight.
- The world would experience perpetual night, and Earth would begin to move at the speed of 18 miles per second into interstellar space.
- The dark side of the planet would also turn dark in two seconds, as would the full moon that was reflecting the sun’s rays.
- The planets in our once-joyous solar system would also blink out throughout the day as they stopped reflecting sunlight to earth.
Impact on the temperature
- The planet would start to freeze and temperatures would start to drop.
- The planet would not completely freeze solid for millions of years, but up here on the Earth’s crust, it wouldn’t take long for temperatures to fall below zero degrees Celsius and reach a bone-chilling -100 degrees.
- Eventually, while geothermal energy is still operating, the earth would stabilise at a temperature of -240 degrees for a few million years. (In other words, while you can, you should invest in a quality coat.)
Impact on Plants and Organisms
- All plants would quickly die, as photosynthesis would stop right away.
- The majority of species on the planet would only last a short while before joining the greatest extinction event in our planet’s history.
- The majority of the human population would perish because of the extreme temperatures, panic, and the breakdown of civilization.
- The few survivors would have to move closer to the earth’s core where they would live in cities modelled after the matrix and run entirely on geothermal energy.
- It will take millions of years before the planet freezes and the earth becomes a solid, frozen chunk of rock travelling through space.
- By that time, hopefully, we will have discovered a way to leave our formerly prosperous world and move to a new one.
Will it all happen instantly?
Of course, there would be serious repercussions for those of us on Earth. Fortunately, our planet retains heat fairly well, so we would not instantly freeze to death. In addition, we would still enjoy a few glorious minutes of sunshine before our planet was enveloped in darkness because it takes eight and a half minutes for light from the Sun to reach us.
The Moon would not suddenly disappear because it would no longer have the Sun’s light to reflect until a few seconds after day-dwellers were plunged into darkness. As the wave of darkness approached the planets in the sky, they would all do the same, vanishing one by one.
However, eventually, the absence of the Sun’s radiation would make us quite chilly. Consider how much colder it is at night than during the day, but then picture that temperature drop happening all the time.
The world would be approximately 100 degrees below freezing in a matter of days and approximately 50 degrees above absolute zero in a matter of weeks. Additionally, the atmosphere would freeze and fall to Earth, leaving us vulnerable to the abrasive radiation coming from space.
The life we know would have to change to survive on our new frozen Earth, and only microscopic organisms below the surface could likely do so thanks to heat from the core. For humans, it would likely take a group effort to construct a few nuclear fusion reactors for us to survive for a while.
Though it is extremely unlikely, we probably do not need to be concerned about the Sun disappearing completely. Therefore, we can relax for now!
Also published on Medium.