What would happen to us if the sun went out for an hour?
(Disclaimer: This Will Not Happen.)
Aside from widespread panic and confusion, not much. Earth would cool as it does after sunset, and we would be kept warm by the heat retained in the atmosphere, oceans, and land as we are every night.
This is with the assumption that the Sun is simply "frozen" for an hour -- say, a giant bushel is put over it. If you actually turned off all fusion in the Sun, it would collapse and then explode, and then we'd have other fish to fry (although it would take longer than an hour for the explosion to happen). Don't get confused -- the Sun doesn't have enough mass to become a supernova, this would be a different process, which won't happen because you can't turn off all fusion in the Sun. Though there is a small but finite probability that it stop right now on its own. But it won't. Very probably. Very. But it could.
If the Sun failed to turn back on in an hour (going back to the bushel case now), we would have serious problems. Certainly within a week the temperature on Earth would have dropped below freezing. People on the coasts might survive longer than the rest, because of the heat the oceans would release; on the other hand I could imagine some intense weather along the coasts due to the temperature gradients. People with large energy reserves would also last longer. I suppose the place to be would be in the ocean, under the layer of insulating ice that would form, near a geothermal vent (not recommended if you breathe air) -- I'm not sure how long life here could last. Biologists?
Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:
- Podcast? Subscribe? Tell me about the Ask an Astronomer Podcast
- Subscribe to our Podcast | Listen to our current Episode
- Cool! But I can't now. Send me a quick reminder now for later.
- How do we know that nuclear fusion is still going on in the Sun?
- How long could life on Earth survive if the Sun stopped shining?
How to ask a question:
If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist
This page has been accessed 58747 times since April 12, 2003.
Last modified: January 31, 2005 5:16:18 PM
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.
Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)