Re-igniting the dying Sun

I have decided to face my superstitious fears, one by one. Biggest one first: what if the Sun suddenly turns tomato red and slinks across the sky no brighter in visible light than the moon?

Scientists assure us the Sun has billions of years more to go. Sure, but it’s not like they dont make mistakes. “Oopsie, hey, we got this equation sorta jumbled up, upon recalculating, the Sun was due to die, like, last year. Goodbye, guys.”

I hear the Sun being non-convective, will only mix 10% of its hydrogen before moving off the main sequence. (The scientists could be wrong here, too.) Sorta wasting the remaining 90% of the hydrogen which could keep it in the yellow of health for several billion more years.

I cannot afford the career disruption this would bring; I need to know how soon before we can restore the ball to a healthy, glowing yellow again.

Do we have any technology in the current era to re-ignite the dying Sun by getting fresh H2 to the core? Perhaps we could smash Mercury into the Sun to cause some productive churning? Or is Venus a better bet? Will the “cure” cause a nova and thereby prove worse than the disease?

Need answer FAST: this has been keeping me awake at night. :stuck_out_tongue:

Sorry, man. The sun contains more than 99.8% of the total mass of the Solar System. Knocking *Jupiter *into it would barely make it blink.

This is basically the plot of the movie Sunshine, in which they send two spaceships with nukes to re-ignite a dying sun. I don’t think they ever talk much about the actual science, though…

How about a giant 500 teraton warhead aimed at the core?

We cannot leave such life-or-death questions for hollywood chicks to figure out. We need some serious brains here.

First of all, the bomb would evaporate from the heat long before it got anywhere near the core. Second of all, the sun’s energy output is the equivalent of 9.192×10^10 megatons of TNT per second. It wouldn’t even notice your bomb.

Face it - the only thing in the universe of the same order of magnitude of the sun, is another sun.

As pointed out above, the sun contains more than 99.8% of the total mass of the Solar System. All the fissionable material you could lay your hands on in all the planets in our solar system wouldn’t be a fart compared to the energy output of the sun.

This is from a FSU course:

ETA: Or what Alessan said

  • I had to enter that because the expression wouldn’t copy

Now we’re getting somewhere… Drat! I thought I had a spare sun lying around, but I can’t seem to find it. Help!

Not to mention once we figured out what was going on, what we needed to do, how we needed to do it, and got funding thru Congress, and started to build whatever, we’d be toast anyway. And don’t get me started on trying to do this with international cooperation…

With bi-partisan support? It’s doubtful the GOP and the Dems would agree that this would be a good thing.

The thing about turning red is that it also expands. So rather than slinking across the sky, it would be the sky. The Sun would engulf the Earth.

As for restarting it, no. The Sun will use up all of its nuclear fuel. After blowing off its outer shell it will become a white dwarf. It will continue to cool and become a black dwarf. Eventually it will produce no energy at all and will be cold, dead matter. Though new stars are currently being created, and will continue to be created for billions of years, there will come a time when they aren’t. Once the star creation stops, the existing stars will live their lives and then cool to cold, dead matter. Black holes will form, and some matter in the universe will go into them. After a while, the black holes will evaporate. No life, no energy, just a whole lot of space with rocks and dust in it. Hypothetically, protons have a half-life of at least 10[sup]32[/sup] years. IANA physicist, but that sounds like matter itself will decay into sub-atomic particles. And I presume those sub-atomic particles will decay into the sub-atomic particles that make them up. The universe, like the Earth, will be ‘without form, and void’.

So unless life evolves such that it can cross into another dimension or another universe, ‘another plane of existence’ as it were, that’s all, folks! :slight_smile:

Jeez, dude, now I don’t see any point in getting up for work tomorrow morning.

Anyway, my understanding is that the only way one could hope to re-ignite a dying sun would be to add significant hydrogen mass to it. Which means dragging another star over to our location. Meaning it probably would be simpler just to re-settle around that other star.

Like someone else said, we’ll be fried long before the Sun runs out of fuel.

We would go “Oh crap, despite all evidence, everything we thought we knew about Physics and Stellar Dynamics appears to be completely wrong!”

Can we have your liver?

With enough time and good enough technology you could theoretically remove the outer portions of the Sun, use it to construct a new, young Sun, then discard the old core. But even if such a thing is really possible it would take a very long time to pull off; and if the Sun is already going red then it’s already near it’s final collapse so I’d guess there’s probably not enough time. Plus, doing any such thing would be extra hard with a star that’s changing size while you do it.

If you had the tech to remove parts of the sun, you could just induce some convection currents to rejuvenate it.

“Here Timmy, blow real hard on the Sun…”

Yep. There’s a lot less Us around to move than the amount of spare fuel we’d need to affect the sun.

Evolution to the red-giant branch takes millions of years. We’d have plenty of warning and time to develop something or even push off en-masse to the Proxima system.

My concern is, what if I wake up tomorrow and find the sun a deep red garnet emitting weepy red light barely enough to read a newspaper by? Probably there was a hiccup in getting hydrogen to the core, and the sun has shut down fusion, but is holding up against gravitational collapse by residual heat from the core.

I imagine the world would be concerned and it would not be business as usual.

I wonder what any sudden solar mass loss (say a passing black hole) is going to do to the planets orbits. Are they all going to fly off?

There’s an interesting short story I’ve read where a few people survive the loss of the sun due to creating a closed system and periodically going out to get supplies…including frozen oxygen.