What would be the effect on the earth if the sun's mass...

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kyuronite

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What would be the effect on the earth if the sun's mass decreases?<br /><br />I'm a high school student so, if possible can you explain the reasoning behind your thoughts and opinions. Thanx

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nacnud

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It would spiral away from the sun as the mass decreases.

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kyuronite

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I know that it would be following newton's law of gravitation. However, what are the details?

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vogon13

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Instantaneously, or over, let's say 500 million years ?<br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#ff0000"><strong>TPTB went to Dallas and all I got was Plucked !!</strong></font></p><p><font color="#339966"><strong>So many people, so few recipes !!</strong></font></p><p><font color="#0000ff"><strong>Let's clean up this stinkhole !!</strong></font> </p> </div>

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kmarinas86

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The sun's mass <b>is</b> decreasing this very moment <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" />

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mrmorris

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<font color="yellow">"I know that it would be following newton's law of gravitation. However, what are the details? "</font><br /><br />It's impossible to provide a detailed answer unless you provide a detailed question. The paths of the planets orbiting the sun are currently in equilibrium -- their velocity counters the pull of the sun in such a way as to keep their paths relatively stable. If the sun's mass decreases, then the paths of the planets orbiting it will spiral further away. Exactly <b>how</b> they'll spiral away depends on how fast the mass is lost, how much mass is lost, etc.<br /><br />- If the mass of the sun were to disappear entirely and instantly -- all of the planets would essentially travel in a straight path tangental to their orbital path at the time the mass disappeared. <br /><br />- If the mass of the sun were to drop say 20% instantaneously, then the paths of the planets (and asteroids, comets, etc.) would spiral further out until their velocity and the gravitational pull from the sun were once again in equilibrium. If you want more details than that -- you need a computer and some orbital modeling software. I <b>think</b> that an instanteneous change like this would make the orbits much less circular -- but that's a guess.

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kyuronite

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well, let's just say the decrease is instantaneous. And to make it a bit simplified, it happens once. considering the orbits, would the orbit become more circular?

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tony873004

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If the Sun instantly lost 20% of its mass, the planets' orbits would become very elliptical.<br /><br />The following 4 screen shots generated with Gravity Simulator show:<br /><br />1. The inner solar system before<br />2. The inner solar system after<br />3. The outer solar system before<br />4. The outer solar system after<br /><br />

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Saiph

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very nice pictures!<br /><br />The orbits would become much more eliptical because it is very similar to giving them all a very swift kick (reducing an attracting force is synonomous to implementing a repulsive...kicking force) at one point in their orbit. Result: They get bounced out of their standard orbit. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p align="center"><font color="#c0c0c0"><br /></font></p><p align="center"><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">--------</font></em></font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">--------</font></em></font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">----</font></em></font><font color="#666699">SaiphMOD@gmail.com </font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">-------------------</font></em></font></p><p><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">"This is my Timey Wimey Detector.  Goes "bing" when there's stuff.  It also fries eggs at 30 paces, wether you want it to or not actually.  I've learned to stay away from hens: It's not pretty when they blow" -- </font></em></font><font size="1" color="#999999">The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>

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majornature

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The Earth will spiral off in another direction, but there is a chance the sun's mass may never decrease but there are high reasonings that sun's mass will increase in another 5 million years or so. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="2" color="#14ea50"><strong><font size="1">We are born.  We live.  We experiment.  We rot.  We die.  and the whole process starts all over again!  Imagine That!</font><br /><br /><br /><img id="6e5c6b4c-0657-47dd-9476-1fbb47938264" style="width:176px;height:247px" src="http://sitelife.space.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/14/4/6e5c6b4c-0657-47dd-9476-1fbb47938264.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" width="276" height="440" /><br /></strong></font> </div>

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astrophoto

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"- If the mass of the sun were to disappear entirely and instantly -- all of the planets would essentially travel in a straight path tangental to their orbital path at the time the mass disappeared. "<br /><br />I thought I had read somewhere that based on modern scientific theories that if the Sun were to suddenly disappear that the planets would continue to orbit for some length of time as if it were still there.

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tony873004

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One of the more interesting things I've heard about the Sun going red giant and swallowing Earth is that this is not necessarily the end of the Earth.<br /><br />At the Earth's distance, the density of the red giant is so tenuous, that it is many magnitudes less dense than Earth's atmosphere.<br /><br />Satellites can orbit Earth in the very tenuous parts of Earth's atmosphere. They spiral down and eventually crash. This can happen to Earth too. But Earth has A LOT of momentum. A tenuous red giant atmosphere is going to have a lot of trouble robbing Earth of its momentum.<br /><br />How about the Earth simply melting because it's inside a star? A tenuous atmosphere, no matter how hot just doesn't transfer heat very well. And the Earth is a HUGE heat sink. So that will take a while too.<br /><br />Could it be possible that the generation of humans that devises a way to save Earth from ultimate destruction could be the first generation to live on Earth in the star?<br /><br />And if this happened, the Sun would be considered a star with 2 cores. The helium shell burning core and the Earth (and maybe Mercury, Venus and Mars too).

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mrmorris

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<font color="yellow">"I thought I had read somewhere that based on modern scientific theories that if the Sun were to suddenly disappear that the planets would continue to orbit for some length of time as if it were still there. "</font><br /><br />Yes -- I believe that would be the WEC* Theory Of Orbital Mechanics (sometimes simply referred to as WECTOOM). This behavior is relatied to the gravitational anomoly in which cartoon characters, having run off the edge of a cliff will remain suspended until they actually <b>notice</b> that there is nothing holding them up. Likewise, the planets in the solar system will continue to act as if gravitationally bound to the sun for some time in defiance of the conventional laws of physics. Once each of the planets notices that it's getting a bit nippy, and chances to look in the direction of where the sun used to be, normal physical laws will once again take precedence, and they will stop circling around a no-longer-applicable gravity well.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />* After its progrnitor, Wile E. Coyote.

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Saiph

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majornature: I know of know findings to indicating the sun is going to gain any considerable mass in the future.<br /><br />Astrophoto: Indeed you are correct, though it's not a consequence of Wiley E. Coyote's theory. It's a consequence of General Relativities assertion (as it hasn't been proven yet) that gravity travels at the speed of light. As such, the earth does not know any changes in the condition of the sun, via gravity or light, for approximately 8 minutes. It will orbit the sun, as the sun was eight minutes ago. It's a time lag basically. Other objects, closer or further, feel the effects sooner or later than the earth. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p align="center"><font color="#c0c0c0"><br /></font></p><p align="center"><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">--------</font></em></font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">--------</font></em></font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">----</font></em></font><font color="#666699">SaiphMOD@gmail.com </font><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">-------------------</font></em></font></p><p><font color="#999999"><em><font size="1">"This is my Timey Wimey Detector.  Goes "bing" when there's stuff.  It also fries eggs at 30 paces, wether you want it to or not actually.  I've learned to stay away from hens: It's not pretty when they blow" -- </font></em></font><font size="1" color="#999999">The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>

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astrophoto

Guest
Thanks for the good laugh, I really like your reply. I actually posted the question seriously. I believe the effect had something to do with the not feeling the loss of the Sun instantaneously due to gravity's effect not being instantaneous and having to traverse the distance between the Sun and Earth. Of course this time period would be very small but would not equate to the Earth flying off in the direction it was traveling at the time, it would fly off in the direction of when the Sun disappeared + some small amount of time for the effect (or lack thereof) of gravity to 'catch up' to the Earth.<br /><br />I am not lending credence to the theory, I guess it boils down to is gravity instantaneous or does it travel?

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xphobe

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Believe it or not, this was the subject of an Air Canada in-flight video last month! <br /><br />The "rubber sheet" analogy is useful here: objects placed on a stretched rubber sheet will make dimples proportional to their mass, and the Sun will make a big dimple around which all the planets (and their little dimples) spiral, not unlike one of those roll-the-penny charity things you see in shopping malls, except without friction the planets orbit forever instead of gradually spiraling into the sun.<br /><br />Anyway, if the Sun suddenly disappeared from the rubber sheet, the dimple would disappear, and the event would ripple outwards like the circular wave from a pebble being tossed into a pond, only at the speed of light. As the wavefront passed each planet, they would get successively released from dimple bondage, and go flying off at a tangent as of that moment.<br /><br />Actually I'd think it would be a bit more complicated because the wavefront would "ring" - meaning gravity would oscillate back and forth for a little while, the planets would bob in and out briefly, and THEN they would go flying off at a tangent.<br /><br />Hey, Wile E. Coyote also once used a rubber sheet and a large mass (anvil). Coincidence? I think NOT!<br />

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