Q:

What would happen if the sun stopped shining?

A:

Quick Answer

If the sun stopped shining, the surface temperature of the Earth would drop by a factor of two approximately every two months, according to Cornell University imprint website Ask an Astronomer. This means that the temperature would be too cold for humans within a few weeks.

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Full Answer

There would likely be some limited bacterial life left on Earth, as some bacteria seem capable of surviving at very cold temperatures in space. However, any other life form would likely die quickly.

On the Huffington Post, Jacqueline Howard points out that if the sun went out, the first most noticeable change would be the absence of light. This would happen after eight minutes and 20 seconds, which is the time it takes sunlight to reach Earth. Without sunlight, photosynthesis would stop, meaning plants would no longer be capable of taking in carbon dioxide and producing life-sustaining oxygen needed by humans and many living things. Photosynthesis performs 99.9 percent of the natural productivity on Earth, and it needs the sun. Furthermore, the Earth would become cold without sunlight, and the average surface temperature would drop below the freezing point. The ocean surfaces would freeze, although some liquid water and marine life on the deep sea floor could possibly remain.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the temperature of the sun?

    A:

    The surface temperature of the sun is about 5,800 kelvins. The temperature at the core of the sun is at least 15,000,000 kelvins. Most of the sun's constituent particles at the surface are gaseous atoms, as no liquid or solid can exist at such high temperatures.

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  • Q:

    Why do humans need light?

    A:

    Light is necessary for the survival of life on Earth, as almost all energy used by life is derived from the sun. Plants and algae use light energy in photosynthesis, which provides usable chemical energy for heterotrophic organisms. In addition, without light, the Earth would be completely cold and dark, as even the moon gets its glow from reflecting the sun.

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  • Q:

    How does the heat from the Sun reach the Earth?

    A:

    Energy from the sun reaches Earth by way of radiation. Heat can be transferred in three ways: conduction, convection and radiation. Radiation is the only way to transfer heat through empty space.

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  • Q:

    Where does the sun rise and set?

    A:

    The sun actually does not rise or set; it is only perceived as rising or setting because of a person's vantage point on the surface of the Earth. This perception of the sun rising and setting is due to the rotation of the Earth itself.

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