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Physics/If sun is removed from the solar system

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Question
Hi,

If sun is removed from the solar system, how much time life in the earth can survive. Will the life go away immediately or in days or futhermore?

Thank you.

Regards,

Answer
Not immediately in human terms, but in geologic or cosmic terms then relatively quickly.  The surface life would go first, anything that depended directly (plants) on photosynthesis on a daily basis would vanish in a few days.  Most of the rest of the surface life would simply freeze to death.  Life around thermal vents heated by the Earth's core would last far longer, probably for many years.  The exact timetable would depend on how deep they were hidden under the oceans, but that would take years and the heat at the middle of the Earth is partly supported by natural radioactive decay of heavy elements in the soil.  Such vents could go on supporting primitive life for many thousands of years.  The theory of "snowball Earth" is not new ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowball_Earth ), but removing the Sun via some magical mechanism entirely would make the Earth much colder.  The orbits of all the planets would go mostly straight, and we could very well collide with objects in the asteroid belt or elsewhere very quickly.

Basically, surface life would vanish almost immediately in geologic terms (months), and primitive life survival is far harder to estimate.  I don't see how the Sun is about to just up and vanish, however.

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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson

Expertise

I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.

Experience

I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Education/Credentials
Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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