What would happen if the earth suddenly froze?

The fate of the earth without the sun


Life on earth would not be possible without the sun. But what exactly would happen without sunlight? Let yourself into a little thought experiment.

Imagine if the sun just went out in a moment.

8 minutes later: eternal solar eclipse

It takes so long before we even notice that the gigantic fireball in the sky is suddenly no longer glowing. Because the light needs 8 minutes for its way to earth. After that, all plants in the world would stop producing oxygen. No photosynthesis without sunlight - so there is no air to breathe. However, we would not suffocate immediately after the blackout, because the existing air in the atmosphere will last for several thousand years.

1 week later: The cold is creeping into the planet

The change in temperature is more problematic than darkness and a lack of oxygen. It gets cold. After just 7 days, the average temperature drops from a pleasant 15 ° C to freezing point. And it's getting colder and colder quickly.

1 year later: The seas freeze over 

Now the average temperature on the earth's surface has already fallen to minus 75 degrees Celsius. Humans can now only survive in a few places with geothermal springs. Here, heat still rises from the earth's interior, which has been stored there since the earth was formed and through the decay of radioactive elements.

The oceans are also starting to freeze over. Life in the sea has to retreat into the deep sea, because there is only enough water left on the seabed. Life could continue to exist here for millions of years. So-called extremophiles, i.e. specially adapted organisms, are already living without the effects of sunlight and produce their food through chemical processes.

10 years later: Everything freezes, the oxygen freezes 

All life on the surface of the earth has ceased to exist. The average temperature has fallen to minus 219 ° C and continues to fall to absolute zero at minus 273 ° C. The earth becomes an ice ball. It snows continuously. The snow no longer consists of water, but of freezing oxygen.

Millions of years later: wanderers in the universe 

Our planet probably still exists. But probably somewhere else in the universe. If the solar power plant is out of order, the force field that keeps the earth in its orbit around the sun also collapses. It drifts through space at around 108,000 kilometers per hour until it may be captured by another star at some point.