If the sun stoped shining

My question is, what would happen to earth if the sun suddenly stopped shining?

We’d freeze in less than a week.

Right. There’s no way a planet without light and heat could support life. Oh sure, we’ve got that whole molten thing going beneath us, but how long would it take to seriously get any benefit from it?

Those miners in Chile might be the last to go.

Well, we’d have eight minutes before it became a problem.

We would finally find out how to mend a broken heart.

It takes just over 8 minutes for the sunlight to get here. The gravity may get weird if it disappeared. If it went dark, we would be pitch black quickly.

Aside from the cold, I expect there would be some really strange weather also.

Let’s see…

Loss of plant life might be a bit of a problem… if you intend to eat… also most of the oxygen production is plankton based, so we’d see a raise in CO2 levels… eventually making the air unbreathable.

Also, we’re putting out a significant wattage of waste heat, but nowhere near to sunlight… so it’s going to get wintery and you can expect the water cycle to stop working pretty fast.
…so, nothing to eat, nothing to drink, nothing to breathe, no light and no heat. Basically the exact opposite of laying on the beach having fun.

Did just the visible light stop? If so, then we’d still have heat which might let us last slightly longer but either way the situation would be grim.

The science fiction story ‘A Pail of Air’ was about a very simlair scenario.

Happens every night with no big problems. So I think everything would be fine.


Eventually being several thousand years. It’s not really a problem since we’d be dead of cold and starvation long before then.

Hmm. How much closer, exactly, would it have to get for us to notice a bad heat wave?


We’d all fart. All at once too.

The sun will stop shining when it dies in ~5 billion years. Humanity may very well not make it that far but if it does, that’s the absolute Game Over mark unless we’ve colonized other galaxies by that point.

Before that things look as if it will expand into a red giant that incinerates the earth. IOW, fire before ice.

(Assuming the Sun is no longer putting out radiation at all, not just visible light), the atmosphere would liquefy, then freeze solid long before we had to worry about rising carbon dioxide levels. (In fact, based on that “Curious About Astronomy” link in Duckster’s post and the fact that carbon dioxide has a boiling point of only 216.6 K or -57 Celsius, CO[sub]2[/sub] should start to rain out of the atmosphere pretty early in the process. Oxygen would go a few months later, then nitrogen.)

River Tam: “You’re afraid we’re going to run out of air. That we’ll die gasping. But we won’t. That’s not going to happen… We’ll freeze to death first.”

I’m not certain how they’re getting their calculation–I assume they’re just subtracting current solar flux from the total radiation balance–but when I ran numbers for this I found that the Earth cooled to freezing temperatures in days rather than weeks, and that was without accounting for the loss of insulating properties due to a change in the composition of the atmosphere once water starts condensing out of the atmosphere. [THREAD=411531]Here[/THREAD] is an old thread discussing the same issue.

The spectrum of solar radiation has most of the energy in the visible and UV bands, which is converted to kinetic energy and/or IR by interaction with the atmosphere. There are stars that radiate mostly in IR and radio bandwidths, but they are much, much smaller than the Sun, with dramatically less overall energy output.