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Question: Is it possible to live without a sun?

Asked by alamin to Mike, Suze, Will on 23 Jun 2011. This question was also asked by thecatalyst.

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  • Photo: Mike DoddMike Dodd answered on 23 Jun 2011:

    Hey Alamin,

    It might be possible to live without the sun in the future with technology. But on earth that would be impossible at the moment. We wouldn’t be able to grow the plants we need to eat. We could use “lightrooms” which would mimic the sun and would be like a green house, I used to use these when I was doing my biochemistry degree. But they use a lot of power and would use all our fuel. So at the moment, no! The sun is our life line.

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  • Photo: Suze KunduSuze Kundu answered on 23 Jun 2011:

    I don’t think so, no.. We orbit the Sun, which is just a star, but if there was no Sun, then what would we be orbiting around? The Earth was formed around our Sun when that was born, so we wouldn’t exist without our Sun either. Would we just be floating around the Universe aimlessly if we weren’t in the orbit of a heavier object? Can we even do that? I’d have to ask an astro guy – let me see if I can find Neutron Star Dude.

    The Sun gives us all of the energy that we need, like heat, and sunlight energy for plants to use for photosynthesis. Animals eat the plants and get energy, and we eat animals and plants to take in that energy to power us, but it’s all basically from the Sun.

    So, I say no, but the others might be able to add more to the answer!

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Comments

  • Photo: alaminalamin commented on 23 Jun 2011:

    But if the sun just ‘disappeared’ right now wouldn’t some bacteria still be able to survive?
    I’ve heard about bacteria that live deep down in the atlantic ocean and don’t even get sunlight.

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  • Photo: EvanEvan commented on 23 Jun 2011:

    Hi there, I’m “Neutron Star Dude” (apparently).

    There are two things -> if the Sun were to vanish then its gravity would be gone and we would not be orbiting it in an ellipse anymore and we would be shot out into the solar system -> bad news. But if you replaces the Sun with (for example) a black hole with the same mass then we would just keep orbiting, but around the black hole instead. Note that the gravity of a black hole is not stronger than a star of the same mass (it doesn’t suck you in like on Futurama!) – there is no difference in terms of gravity if we they were both the same mass.

    But no need to worry about these things anyway, because if the Sun went away, and even if you replaced it with something of the same mass, it wouldn’t matter, as we would all START TO DIE WITHIN 8 MINUTES! We need the energy from the sun for everything! If we can’t grow any food we not last long. If trees died then we’d breath up all the oxygen pretty quickly. Oh ya, and the planet would get well cold!

    Why do we get 8 minutes you ask? Well this is because this is how far away the Sun is from Earth, 8 light minutes. It takes light 8 minutes to go from the Sun to here. That means that it is impossible to know for sure if the Sun is still there now! We can only be sure that it was there 8 minutes ago. ;)

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  • Photo: SuzeSuze commented on 23 Jun 2011:

    NSD, you’re a legend.

    Alamin, there are bacteria that can survive in crazy conditions, called extremophiles, as they love (-phile) extreme (extremo) conditions. They would probably survive any major Earth event, like a meteor impact on Earth, or some seriously major climate change, and will probably outlive the human race, but like Evan said, the Sun serves different purposes than just a light in the sky.

    There are other bacteria that can live off things like methane, etc, but they all need sunlight energy to keep working.

    I hope that between us, we’ve answered your questions!

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  • Photo: alaminalamin commented on 23 Jun 2011:

    Oh thanks, I never knew we’d be orbiting around a black hole if we came across it, thought we’d just be sucked in (yes, just like futarama :) ). Thanks for the help Neutron Star Dude, and thanks Suze! :)

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  • Photo: MikeMike commented on 23 Jun 2011:

    Extremophiles are really interesting bacteria-like organisms. They can be found in the most craziest of places. Some have been found in volcano vents deep in the ocean. These are called Hyperthermophiles, they can live in temperatures of up to 122 degrees. This is an extreme temperature:
    http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/H/hyperthermo.html
    Or the Piezophile, which can live at the very bottom of the ocean, in the deep sea trenches. Where the pressures are so high that submarines can’t ever get that low.

    So Suze is right, they would out live us all, if there was an extreme event, like a meteor impact.

    Just thought I would give you a little more food for thought :)

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  • Photo: SuzeSuze commented on 23 Jun 2011:

    Yeah, but the really interesting thing is that we evolved from bacteria, and we’ll be outlived by them too, so even though we are complex creatures, they still win. They might then go on to re-evolve into a new complex species after we’re long gone!

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  • Photo: JimJim commented on 25 Jun 2011:

    It isn’t just bacteria that could survive. Movile cave in Romania is home to a bacterially-driven ecosystem, supporting a variety of life from the bacteria at the bottom of the food/energy chain right the way up to worms, arthropods and spiders. There is no energy input from the sun whatsoever in this environment, so for all intents and purposes, the sun may as well not exist.

    http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/lifesci/research/jcmurrell/currentprojects/movilecave/

    Whilst the more complex forms of life didn’t originate in the cave – they were trapped here when it became geologically isolated – they have evolved to survive in this environment. The only source of primary production in this ecosystem is via chemosynthesis, the chemical processing of the surrounding geology.

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