What would happen to Earth if the Sun suddenly vanished?

It’s the source of light, heat and energy and has given us “to die for” sunsets.

If we lost the Sun (or Moon) there would be no more beautiful eclipses like this one ever again. Photo: NASA.

If we lost the Sun (or Moon) there would be no more beautiful eclipses like this one ever again. Photo: NASA.

It’s been a little cloudy lately and we miss it – but what if the Sun suddenly wasn’t there anymore?

What would the short-term and long-term effects be on Earth if the Sun suddenly vanished? Not a comforting thought but it could happen, writes Dave Reneke from Australasian Science Magazine.

Not a lot of good would come out of the Sun’s sudden disappearance. Firstly, if it were to vanish right now, we wouldn’t know for eight and a half minutes.

It actually takes that long for the sunlight to reach our eye we would blissfully orbit the recently vanished star unaware of our impending demise. Suddenly, as the last of the Sun’s rays fell onto Earth’s daylight side, the Sun would simply vanish.  

Eternal night would fall over the planet and Earth would spin off into space at 25 kilometres per second. Within two seconds, the full Moon reflecting the Sun’s rays on the dark side of the planet would also go dark.

Over the course of the day, all the planets in our once happy solar system would blink out as they stopped reflecting sunlight back to Earth.

Things would start looking pretty grim. Temperatures would start to plummet and Earth would start freezing, starting at 0 degrees Celsius. Scientists say it would take millions of years for the planet to completely freeze solid, dropping to a bone-chilling minus 100 degrees in the first year! If you’re feeling nippy at this stage go grab a jumper because it gets worse. All plant life would quickly perish in the greatest extinction event in the history of our little world.

Between the extreme temperatures, panic, and the collapse of civilisation, most of the human population would be wiped out. The few who survive would need to go closer to the centre of the Earth, living off the heat energy of the core.

Ah, there is a movie plot somewhere in there.

Eventually Earth would end up as a frozen chunk of rock sailing through space. Hopefully, by then, we will have found a way to leave our once prosperous world and migrate to a new home. See it does have a happy ending.