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Blowing up the sun

  1. Jul 13, 2013 #1
    Hello, New here, hoping to get some answers...

    So here's my dilemma, me and my friend are having this debate. He claims that a beam of energy, of any size, even smaller than an ant, should be enough to destroy the sun. His theory is that, if the beam carries enough energy to rival the gravitation binding of the sun, it would just disrupt it and cause the sun to go nova.

    Basically the theory entails that a beam of energy is shot at the sun, then the sun absorbs energy and then blows up, due to the excess energy absorb for its gravitation binding.

    To be honest I see a lot of holes in this theory, and I don't understand gravitation binding that good. So is there any merit to this, lets say hypothetically you can generate a beam with that amount of energy. Would it work the way he planned?
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2013
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  3. Jul 13, 2013 #2
    Well first of all , "beam of energy" that is something you tell your kids before they go to sleep , normally for adults energy comes in different forms , there are kinetic energies (when mass is moving at a certain speed) radiation energy like the wavelength of a photon or let's just say light.
    Sunlight burns your skin if you stay in it for too long so it has energy you could say.

    Now as for the sun part.Even exploding nuclear bombs on sun wouldn't make it go into pieces.The sun is extremely big and has alot of mass , now as you would understand alot of mass tends to hold together really good (strong gravity) so for you to be able to break that chunk of mass apart you would need huge and vast amounts of energy would it be kinetic of some traveling object or whatever.
    Also if the explosion wouldn't be big enough the pieces of the sun would rejoin together to form the sun again as not all hydrogen is used up and when it would join together it would form a spherical object which would compress itself under it's mass and voula nuclear fusion again and we have sunshine again, so I would say almoust impossible a scenario. Even for the star wars. :D
  4. Jul 13, 2013 #3
    I'm not very smart, but the numbers don't add up to me. A "beam" of whatever kind of energy would need to be pretty powerful. An explosion large enough to push apart 1 solar mass would be well over 3 solar masses, right? From my understanding, any form of energy or mass that large will just collapse into a singularity.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong in this assumption.
  5. Jul 13, 2013 #4


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    So before anyone can really answer your question, you will have to tell us what you mean by "energy beam" and "disrupt gravity". Once we know that, perhaps we can talk about an "energy beam" "distrupting" gravity! Personally, I don't know of anything that can "disrupt gravity".
  6. Jul 13, 2013 #5
    By beam of laser, he basically means a highly powered laser and I have somewhat come to the same conclusion, but my friend keeps on insisting about this gravitational binding thing. Which is a topic I've never come across, been reading about it though.

    Anyway thanks.
  7. Jul 13, 2013 #6
    Basically he's saying an ubberly high powered laser, charged with enough energy that rivals or surpasses the suns gravitational binding. He's stating that just by shooting the beam at the sun, the laser's energy would add to the suns, disrupting the gravitational binding and cause the sun to go supernova.

    By the way I have told him that it doesn't make sense, since mass, the physical characteristics of both the sun and the laser and energy distribution, factors in, since it determines how two interacts. But he keeps insisting that all you need to do is have enough energy to rival the suns gravitational binding problem solved.

    Another thing my friend is a hell of a lot more physics savvy than me, but I just can't agree with him on this.

    And thanks for replying.
  8. Jul 13, 2013 #7


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    He's not savvy on this. Nothing that humans can manufacture would have much effect on the sun.
  9. Jul 13, 2013 #8


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    Nonsense. It is utterly impossible to cause the Sun to go supernova by shining a super powerful laser at it. (Which is different than simply exploding it by overcoming its gravitational binding energy)

    I can't possibly see it working this way. A laser powerful enough to disrupt the Sun would probably just punch right through. Especially if its a thin beam.
  10. Jul 14, 2013 #9
    I came to the same hypothesis as well. Basically there wouldn't be much interaction between the sun and the laser, at least that's what I think. I just needed the extra nudge of confirmation on this, he uses so much unfamiliar terms on us, that we just kind of let it pass, but this just doesn't make sense to me.

    One other thing, how would you cause a sun to explode by overcoming its gravitation binding?

    Thanks for the reply...
  11. Jul 14, 2013 #10


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    It's more like you would overcome the binding energy if you caused it to explode.
  12. Jul 14, 2013 #11
    I think my understanding of "gravitational binding energy" has gone up a notch, thanks by the way.

    So correct me if I''m wrong, but basically you need to overcome the gravitational force(gravitational binding energy) that's holding the sun together. With a force greater than and maybe bigger than it. Lets say an explosion, or hit it with a ubber giant planet/asteroid if such even exist.

    As of now I think he has a child's understanding of energy. Mainly because of the word energy at the end of "gravitational binding energy" he may have thought you can just add up or subtract energy without considering the physical structure or type of energy the object or projectile consist of. (He watches a lot of anime, so I think he got that there).
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2013
  13. Jul 14, 2013 #12


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    Yeah, energy is a very specific thing in science. Quite simply, it is the ability to perform work. That's it. It's not some mystical substance that can be blasted around.
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