How much water does it take to extinguish the sun

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Let’s say you have a tough day at work. And you, returning home in the evening, sighed, weighed all the options and decided to destroy humanity. Don’t be shy, everyone has these thoughts.

However, the issue needs to be approached creatively. A nuclear war, a zombie invasion or a new bubonic plague pandemic is, of course, great, but eerily banal. It is better to act for certain, globally – for example, to put out the Sun. Ordinary water.

Prominence on the Sun. Image: NASA / SDO / AIA / Goddard Space Flight Center

Of course, you know that a fire can be filled with water. The liquid on contact with fire evaporates, while cooling the fuel. When the temperature of the latter falls below the ignition temperature, the fire goes out. Add to this the fact that water vapor displaces oxygen from the fire and the combustion reaction stops without an oxidizing agent.

But the Sun, like all other stars, does not burn in the usual sense of the word. The luminary consists of gas, heated by the processes of nuclear fusion taking place in its depths. Hydrogen in the Sun, due to the enormous pressure of the outer layers, turns into helium, while a huge amount of energy is released, the gas heats up, and the star shines.

But we will still try to pour water on the Sun as an experiment – at the same time we will find out whether it will hiss or not.

There is a lot of water in space – you just need to know where to look. There are planets that consist mainly of it. These super-Earths are larger than our long-suffering Earth, but smaller than Uranus. Although, given the composition of such celestial bodies, it would be more logical to call them superwaters, NASA scientists have their own atmosphere.

Gliese 1214 b next to its star as seen by the artist. Image: ESO / L. Calçada

Take Gliese 1214 b. It is about 2.7 times larger than our planet and almost seven times heavier. Against the background of the Sun, of course, a trifle: it weighs 332,940 times more than the Earth. But nothing prevents us from grabbing tens of thousands of these water worlds and start throwing them at a star to see how it reacts.

Physicist Randall Munro, author of What If?.. Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, told how our experiment should end. When we flood the Sun with streams of H2O, it will not even think to go out – on the contrary, the star will begin to burn brighter.

The fact is that water contains hydrogen, and it serves as fuel for the Sun. As you add liquid to the luminary, it will become larger and hotter.

With the same success, you can put out a fire with gasoline.

By the way, about whether it will hiss or not: there is no substance in a vacuum that could conduct sounds, so the answer is no. But if you were able to pick up radio waves with your ears, you would hear how the Sun sounds. Scientists at NASA and Stanford University have translated the data collected by the SOHO radio telescope into an audio format acceptable to humans. Here’s what happened.

Not scary? We forgot to mention that to get the full picture, you need to play the record 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at a volume of 100 decibels – it’s like at a rock concert. Approximately the same, only louder, the flooded Sun would puff, if we could hear it. It’s good we can’t.

So, as the Sun is flooded with water, it will gradually increase, and the processes occurring in it will change. So, when you add so much liquid to a star that it becomes 1.7 times heavier, the hydrogen-helium fusion in the star will change to the CNO cycle (carbon-nitrogen-oxygen).

How much water is needed for this? 3.4 × 10³º liters, something like that. Western Texas University physicist Christopher Baird explains that if you double the mass of the sun, it will release 16 times more energy and shine 16 times brighter. The glow of the star will change from yellow to bluish.

Life on Earth will be blown away by the solar wind along with the atmosphere, and the surface will be sterilized by x-rays and ultraviolet radiation.

At the same time, the lifetime of the Sun will be significantly reduced: several million years instead of the expected 5.4 billion. Because the brighter the star, the faster it consumes nuclear fuel.

This is already something, but, as you understand, the wait is still too long. Therefore, we continue to pour water on the Sun.

An interesting fact is that spots on the Sun contain fresh water in the form of steam, and there is much more of it than on Earth. NSO/NSF/AURA

When we fill in so much liquid that the luminary begins to weigh about 3.3 times more, something interesting will begin. Due to too much pressure from the outer layers, the Sun will collapse into a singularity, that is, it will become a black hole with a radius of about 19.5 kilometers. Approximately such a black hole, the smallest known to science now, is located in the constellation Auriga.

Here you can stop pouring liquid. We do not need to increase the black hole, because, absorbing matter, it generously gives us X-rays in response, and this is superfluous.

Also, at this stage, your municipal department may become suspicious that something is wrong and cut off the water supply.

So, after the Sun turns into a dwarf black hole, the Earth will begin to cool. Physicist Marco Kirko of Cornell University has calculated that it will take about two months for the last heat from the planet’s surface to escape into space.

Now you can breathe easy: the goal has been achieved. It took only 6.6 × 10³º liters of water.

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