Let’s speculate for a moment.
What would happen if our sun suddenly went out?
熄灭一小时 一个月 甚至一年呢？
For an hour or for a month or let’s say even for a whole year?
What would happen to mankind?
The very last photons from the surface of our star
and the last particles that make up the solar wind
have started their final flight towards the Earth.
No one yet suspects that the heart of our solar system has stopped functioning.
8 to 9 minutes later and the sky suddenly turns black.
Darkness descends upon the entire planet.
No matter whether at the moment it’s the deep dark of midnight
or a bright sunny noontime at your location,
you can quickly and easily see the difference.
The stars are now all clearly visible
against the sheer black backdrop of the sky.
The Moon is not visible at all
since there’s no longer any sunlight were it to reflect
A moment before the onset of the all and shrouding darkness
bright Northern Lights may appear due to changes in the magnetic field around the Earth
and the disturbances in the ionosphere.
The most dreadful consequence of all
is the complete and utter cessation of the process of photosynthesis
resulting in plants and cyanobacteria no longer producing oxygen.
This will soon lead to, how shall we say it,
difficulties for every living being.
After an hour,
true panic reigns over the heretofore day times side of the earth.
Power and communication outages propagate across the entire planet.
Temperatures everywhere drop by a several degrees
and the Earth surface begins to slowly cool.
But from the inside the planet is still heated by its molten core.
24 hours in, dawn has not and will not arrive.
Panic and chaos are enveloping the entire world.
State authorities have almost zero control over the situation.
Humankind is trying to figure out what the hell happened
while coping with massive power and water supply outages.
The temperature on the surface falls to
between 5℃ to 7°C.
That’s about 41℉ to 45°F
and has now decreased by about 15℃ to 20°C.
That’s a drop of about 30°F.
Some species of plants and microorganisms begin to die.
The inhabitants of the ocean for the time being feel almost no changes.
After 7 days, it’s still dark.
The average temperature on earth is now -17°C.
That’s about 1°F.
In areas where there are tectonic faults,
it’s still warm.
Thanks to geothermal energy not letting the surface freeze over.
Most plants have already died due to cold or lack of light.
Herbivorous and heat loving animals also begin to die.
In the oceans, phytoplanktons begin to die as well.
The inhabitants of shallow waters suffer tremendously from the cold
and the surface of the ocean is beginning to turn to ice.
By now, scientists and other individuals have realized
what has happened and rushed to organize and equip shelters.
One month in and the Earth is continuing to cool.
The average temperature on the surface is now about -30°C.
And almost the entire planet is now coated with ice.
Virtually all plants and cyanobacteria have perished.
不过一些种类的树木 如松柏类 仍然存活着
Some species of trees, especially conifers, are still alive.
But with the lack of sunlight,
even they are not producing oxygen.
In fact, most of the earth living things have died.
some bacteria still carry on with their normal life activity.
Most of the remaining life on earth is now found only
near geothermal springs and under water.
Interestingly, the layer of ice on the surface of the ocean slows down their cooling.
And in the areas of oceanic tectonic faults and geothermal sources, the water is still warm.
Obviously being naturally heated.
But even in the ocean the drama
of a mass extinction event begins to unfold.
One year in and the surface of the Earth and the oceans
are covered with a thick layer of ice.
According to professor David Stevenson at CalTech
the temperature on the surface of the earth
should drop to about -40°C and that’s the same in Fahrenheit.
Life endures now only deep in the earth oceans,
and perhaps some groups of humans might be able to survive on the surface of the planet
in places like Iceland and other areas with large amounts of geothermal activity.
Professor Stevenson believes that the Earth
will continue to cool for another several thousand years.
Until the surface temperature reaches approximately -160°C.
That’s about -256°F.
At that point, life on the planet in the usual sense of the word
will simply become impossible.
And let’s not forget about the gravity of the Sun.
After all, it’s unlikely that the Sun could suddenly go out
without losing its gravitational pull.
If the Sun ceases to hold the planets
and other celestial bodies in their orbit
then the planets and asteroids will simply fly away into outer space.
Some of them possibly even colliding with one another.
The Earth for one will soar out into deep space
在那里承受小行星 彗星 放射物的轮番轰炸
where it could get bombarded with asteroids, comets and radiation
collide with another planet
or even some day end up in the gravity well of a black hole.
There’s also a very small possibility that
after wandering through space for a very long time,
the Earth would be able to integrate into another stellar system and find a new sun.
In the end, however,
it’s important to realize that this scenario is just a fantasy.
Or rather a thought experiment of sorts.
As for the real future of our star,
in a couple of billion years
the sun will swell and turn into a red giant.
Our star will swallow Mercury and Venus
and Earth and Mars will become heated up to several thousand degrees.
In five billion years,
the Sun will explode and throw off its outer envelope.
Leaving at the center of the Solar System,
a gradually cooling stellar core.
A white dwarf around which will orbit
whatever remains of the Solar System after the explosion.
Concerning humankind, its fate remains unknown.
Hopefully by that time we’ll be able
to fly to other planets and star systems.
But that is a story for another day.