Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

If the sun could go supernova

  1. Jan 13, 2014 #1
    Now I know the sun cant go supernova ever, but lets say the sun somehow acquires enough mass to eventually undergo a supernova with an energy output of one foe, what would happen to the solar system? Would the outer planets such as the gas giants and pluto survive?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 14, 2014 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I do not mean to belittle your question, but, first you must suggest a way the sun could acquire so much mass without unforeseen circumstances. A star is not much of a supernova threat unless it achieves about 8 solar masses. I fail to see how that much mass could enter the solar system without seriously messing with all the planetary orbits.
  4. Jan 14, 2014 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    I'm not sure. It takes a LOT of energy applied in a specific way to destroy a planet. I'm not sure a shockwave from a supernova is enough to destroy them unless they are very close to the star. I'd expect significant erosion of the atmospheres of any planets, along with possible orbital changes that may result in the ejection of said planets from the system, but they might survive.
  5. Jan 14, 2014 #4
    Seems like the solar system would cease to exist....at least as we know it. As radiation reduces the 'mass' [gravity] of the sun, orbits must surely change.....

    Similar is going to happen when the sun ends it's life and becomes a red giant...at least for earth.

    Hard for me to imagine a low density gas giant surviving.

    Some tidbit insights here.


    Seems like there may be some hope for continued habitability, but I'm, pretty sure we are too close...I'd rather not be here to observe it.
  6. Jan 14, 2014 #5
    A general way to look at this:

    The heat and energy of a supernova, or even the red giant our sun will one day become, would surely convert some mass of some of the planets to 'energy'. So some mass will most likely be converted to energy in the form of radiation...photons, alpha particles and so forth. Other mass would likely change orbit and still other be accelerated beyond the 'solar system'.
  7. Jan 14, 2014 #6
    So lets say that our entire solar system is brought to size so that the sun is big enough to produce a supernova.
    For one, it would die out faster. and most likely not be able to exist to see it.
    And if it did go supernova, the inner planets would be either annihilated by the blast, or thrown out of orbit. the outer planets would probably lose its atmosphere and possibly its core. it still sustained, however, the gas giants would be in luck! They would start collecting material from mutual gravity. and BAM! you got a giant Jupiter. with a little (But millions of kilometers in diameter) white dwarf star. However, this is my own theory of it.
  8. Jan 14, 2014 #7


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    A solar mass white dwarf is around 14,000 km in diameter and increasing the mass decreases the diameter.
  9. Jan 22, 2014 #8
    Planets orbiting massive stars (> 9 M☉) are likely to survive supernovae events, for two reasons. First, the supernovae blast is 360°, and planets form along the ecliptic which means only 3% to 5% of the blast will be along the ecliptic. Second, stars that are about to go supernovae are not very dense, typically less than 1.4 g/cm3.

    While the supernovae may be sufficient to strip off the atmospheres of rocky type planets, it would not destroy them. It would, however, most certainly change the orbits of every planet in the solar system, as the supernovae blows off a considerable amount of its mass.

    Planets around neutron/pulsar stars have already been discovered. In fact, the very first exoplanet found was orbiting around a pulsar.

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook