By Kelvinsong (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

What would happen if a 10 m plasma sphere was transported from the Sun to Earth?

Short answer: It depends where you get the plasma from.

Long answer: Suppose you could bottle a chunk of the sun about the size of a house. What would happen if you brought this bottle home, and opened it on earth? Well, it depends where you pulled your plasma from.

If you skim the surface of the sun’s chromosphere, you’re really not getting your money’s worth. The chromosphere is over a thousand times less dense than air, and is only a few thousand degrees. This is so sparse that it’s basically vacuum compared to earth’s atmosphere. If we brought a bottle of this to the earth it would be crushed, imploding with an ear shattering bang. It will break windows, and could probably knock over a few small buildings, but you’ll be okay if you’re not standing too close.

The core, on the other hand, is millions of degrees. The immense pressure exerted on the core by the weight above it compresses the plasma to densities ten times greater than lead. If you brought your indestructible bottle to the earth and opened it, it would be like suddenly turning off that pressure. The plasma would expand, exploding with the force of… the sun, I suppose. The thermal energy in this plasma is ten thousand times greater than the energy released by the Tsar Bomba, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated, and only a hundred times less than the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs [1]. It would be apocalyptic, possibly civilization-ending. I have no doubt that, like the eruption of Krakatoa, this will be a shot heard ’round the world.

 

 

 


 

 

asked by Eduardo F.
image credit: Wikimedia Commons

 


 

 

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