The sun is a beautiful star which lights our sky. We know that it will eventually die by expanding and swallowing our Earth whole. But what would happen if it suddenly disappeared? It’s of course impossible for an object the size of the sun to just simply disappear. However, let’s think of a scenario where, for whatever reason, it just suddenly disappeared.
The first few moments after the disappearance of the sun:
Until a bit over 8 minutes after it’s disappearance, we won’t notice a thing and the Earth will continue orbiting the gap left by the sun. This is due to the speed that light and gravity waves travel at. After the first 8 minutes, we’ll be plunged into darkness, and confusion will ensue but we’ll be fine for the most part.
Other planetary bodies will continue behaving normally for a certain period of time depending on their distance from the sun. After the last light wave reaches them, planetary bodies will travel in a straight line tangent to wherever they were in their orbit.
Plants are our only source of oxygen production, they inhale CO2 and exhale O2 by photosynthesis. When the sun’s light waves stop reaching us, photosynthesis will stop. Plants will stop producing Oxygen and our Oxygen supply will start diminishing. It’s not as bad as it sounds, as our atmosphere contains massive amounts of Oxygen. It’ll take thousands of years for us to completely run out of Oxygen.
After 1 week:
Most small trees will die after this period. Large trees could survive without photosynthesis for hundreds of years, but they will freeze to death long before they starve to death. The average surface temperature will drop from 15 degrees Celsius to 0 degrees Celsius. Humans would still be able to live but the temperature will quickly get more and more unbearable. You might think that oceans will freeze at this point and you won’t be wrong, though only their surface will freeze. With ice being a good insulator, it will protect the water underneath from freezing; the water will be relatively warm.
After 20 years:
The air will become cold enough to precipitate in the form of liquid and eventually snow. If any humans survive until this point, their only refuge, would be near geothermal vents on the ocean floors. These vents emit heat that wells up from the center of the Earth and would be the last place where humans could live.
After billions of years:
Liquid water will continue on existing, protected by miles of ice sheets. As long as there is water, life will continue on thriving in the deepest parts of the oceans. Organisms and micro-organisms living there won’t even know the sun disappeared.
Not all life depends on the sun.
Written by: Osama Waheib