How much water would you need to extinguish the Sun? How would we deliver such an enormous amount of water anyway?
Would all that water even make it to the star?
Wouldn’t it evaporate before reaching the Sun’s burning flares? Whatever your plan is, be careful. Because trying to put out the Sun would only make it hotter.
Before we dive into how things would go terribly wrong, let’s talk about where we could, hypothetically, find all that water. I’ve got some ideas. How about the Universe’s largest ice cube?
A gigantic space firehose? Or an entire waterworld tossed into the Sun?
Okay, fine. Let’s be a little more realistic. No giant ice cube will be passing our Solar System anytime soon.
That leaves us with one possible scenario. We’d have to sacrifice every single drop of water we have here on Earth.
We would drain our oceans and deplete all of the freshwater, too. Then we’d build a very large firehose and blast it at light speed towards the Sun’s core. And then…
Wait, did I say there was just one option? I forgot about the possibility of using a waterworld. Leaving the Earth with no Sun and no water seems a bit unreasonable.
And we could avoid that ocean-draining scenario if we found a way to throw an exoplanet into the Sun. But not just any exoplanet. We’d be aiming for a real-life waterworld. And we just happen to know where to find it.
Some 40 light-years from Earth, there is a planet primarily made of water with an atmosphere of steam. Scientists named it GJ 1214b, but we’ll call it the waterworld.
This planet is 2.7 times bigger than the Earth in diameter, and it weighs seven times more than our planet. And it has much less rock and a lot more water than the Earth does.
There would probably be enough water on the waterworld to put out the Sun forever. But it wouldn’t happen the way you might expect it to.
If we were able to crash that waterworld into the Sun, the first problem would be the water freezing in space. Same thing would happen if we could pull out a gigantic firehose with all of Earth’s water and aim it at our star.
The ice would continue shooting towards the Sun, but it would face mass-evaporation as soon as it hit the star’s atmosphere. The water vapor would then break down to its basic ingredients, oxygen and hydrogen. And that’s when something interesting would happen.
The Sun may seem like a huge fireball, but it’s not exactly on fire. Inside its blazing core, the pressure is 340 billion times more than it is on Earth’s surface. This immense pressure fuses hydrogen atoms together, making helium and giving off energy in the process.
Since hydrogen acts like fuel for our Sun, pouring water on it would be like throwing gasoline on a fire. You’d see the Sun turn bluish white as it grew six times bigger.
It would create an extreme heatwave across our planet. But at least we wouldn’t be engulfed by the expanding Sun, although there could be other consequences.
We wouldn’t be able to put out the Sun with its own fuel. But if we fired enough water at it at the speed of light, it could break up the Sun.
The pressure inside it would drop. The hydrogen couldn’t fuse together into helium. And that would shut the Sun down.
With no Sun to give us warmth and light, the Earth would turn into a frozen world. After just one year, Earth’s temperature would drop below -73°C (-100°F).
Most of the plants and animals would be dead long before that. And what about us, humans? In the deepest parts of the oceans, geothermal vents could have kept us warm and supplied us with energy.
But we just poured all of Earth’s water into the Sun, dooming ourselves to freeze. Lucky for us, the only thing in the Universe that can do any substantial harm to the Sun is the Sun itself, and that would take billions of years to happen.
- “Sun Facts: Interesting Facts About Sun (Or Sol)”. The Planets. Accessed August 30 2019.
- “How Much Water Would It Take To Extinguish The Sun? » Science ABC”. Akash Peshin. 2016. Science ABC. Accessed August 30 2019.
- “Consent Form | Popular Science”. Otterbein, Holly, 2019. popsci.com. Accessed August 30 2019.
- “New Type Of Alien Planet Is A Steamy ‘Waterworld'”. space.com. Accessed August 30 2019.
- “How Much Water Would Extinguish The Sun? – Universe Today”. Cain, Fraser, 2015. Universe Today. Accessed August 30 2019.
- “What Would Happen To Earth If There Is No Sun?”. 2019. Reference. Accessed August 30 2019.
- “If The Sun Went Out, How Long Would Life On Earth Survive?”. Otterbein, Holly, 019. popsci.com. Accessed August 30 2019.
- “How Long Could Life On Earth Survive If The Sun Stopped Shining? (Beginner) – Curious About Astronomy? Ask An Astronomer”. Krco, Marko. 2019. curious.astro.cornell.edu. Accessed August 30 2019.