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

Is it Possible to Contaminate our Sun?

  1. Feb 7, 2009 #1
    Lets assume if we were able to gather ALL the Radioactive waste on Earth, eg. depleted Uranium, and also other un-recyclable materials - drink bottles, plastic bags etc... and fire them into the Sun. Would then, the sun be contaminated for the next billion years since most radioactive materials have half-lives of millions of years. Or would there be NO effect at all?

    I've always been intrigued at possibility of using our sun as a waste storage system, but not sure about the consequences. Thanks!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2009 #2

    mgb_phys

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    The sun is rather large, the amount of waste is rather small (in fact if all radioactive waste was distributed evenly over the Earth it would still be well below the background)

    The tricky bit is getting the stuff to the sun
     
  4. Feb 7, 2009 #3
    What would happen to the radioactive waste in the Sun? Would they become inert? Yes, I know it's tricky getting all the Earth's garbage to the sun, but I'm assuming we can do it easily, cheaply in the near future.
     
  5. Feb 7, 2009 #4

    mgb_phys

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    They don't become inert although some may be fissioned by any stray neutrons. But depending where you put them on the surface of the sun they would just get blown back out into space
     
  6. Feb 7, 2009 #5
    Thanks, I was hoping to put them into the Center of the Sun, so they wouldn't escape. Slightly off topic, but what if we put the radioactive materials onto a neutron star.. wouldn't that be a better way to get rid of it forever? Thanks.
     
  7. Feb 7, 2009 #6
    Isnt the sun about 1 million times bigger than earth? We could probly throw out entier planet in there with out much notices by the system and the fission that makes the sun what it is produces some pretty crazy radiation that would kill us pretty easly if we wern't protected by the atmosphere/magnitosphere.
    I think what prevents srious conseideration for this is the idea of one of the rockets full of the radioactive wast exploding befor it was out of the atmosphear creating an enviormental disaster or epic proportions
     
  8. Feb 7, 2009 #7
    Why would you want to get rid of it? Nuclear waste is greatly overblown as a problem. There are a lot of uses you could use of the various isotopes. The problem with nuclear waste is that it is a wide mixture of different radioactive materials. Most of them can be put to various uses if they are purified. Some day we will probably be "mining" the various waste sites for those nuclear materials.
     
  9. Feb 7, 2009 #8
    Nice Subductionzon what can we do with all the differnt stuff after we purify it ?
     
  10. Feb 7, 2009 #9
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  11. Feb 7, 2009 #10
    That's useful, I never thought about it in that way.. No more sending them into space! :)
     
  12. Feb 8, 2009 #11

    D H

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Ignoring that this is throwing away potentially valuable resources (see post #9) and ignoring the immense safety issues, why would you want to use the Sun as a waste storage system? It would be much cheaper in fuel costs (delta V) to simply put the waste on an escape trajectory from the solar system than it would be to place it on a collision course with the Sun. Even cheaper would be to put the waste in orbit around Venus.
     
  13. Feb 25, 2009 #12
    Cheap but irresponsible. If everyone thought the same way, then Space would fill up with garbage sooner or later, and we must think of our younger generations who one day might use space to fly to other planets and stars. I strongly believe than any material that can be reused or recycled should be sent into the sun for decomposition. It's the best way to ensure that there are no waste left behind.
     
  14. Feb 25, 2009 #13
    Our sun as the ultimate garbage-pit?
    I can't think of any thing from our earth which would destabilize our sun.
     
  15. Feb 25, 2009 #14
    Shooting it at the sun will be about the same as shooting it into space. The material shot at the sun probably isn't going to stay in the sun, it will just get vaporized and blown everywhere. It's still going to be radioactive waste in space either way.

    Space is far larger than any person could ever imagine; we couldn't fill it up with anything even if we tried.
     
  16. Feb 25, 2009 #15

    Nabeshin

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    The question isn't one of destabilization. Of course, the sun could gobble up the entire earth and likely not change a wink.

    Nothing particularly grand would happen to the material either. The sun emits so much radiation, anything radioactive we add to it is completely negligible. Really, all effects of putting radioactive material in the sun are negligible. (Fortunately, so are they for shooting it out of the solar system, which costs much less!)
     
  17. Feb 25, 2009 #16
    It would take a lot of energy to get it all to the sun, mostly getting it out of the earth's gravity well. Not something likely to happen any time soon. Not to mention the bulk involved. Not all our nuclear waste is spent fuel. There is also a significant amount of other radioactive waste that is bulky and heavy. Back around 1980 there was a problem with the coolant in many reactors in this country. The heat exchangers in a bunch of power plants had to be removed from the containment domes and replaced. These things look like gigantic CO2 cartridges, around 100 feet long and made from steel that was 6 or more inches thick if I recall. Each reactor had at least a couple of them. All that steel is radioactive and had to be shipped and stored somewhere as radioactive waste. Many, many tons and that wasn't the only source of waste from that operation. I know about this because I helped remove them from a nuke plant in Norfolk VA for a few weeks. It was an amazing process, they had to be cut in half and then jockied around by an internal crane and out a round porthole in the side of the containment dome. It's why I quit photography, I still fog unexposed film when I am near it. I only started taking pictures again since cameras went digital :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2009
  18. Feb 25, 2009 #17

    D H

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Oh, please. This is a physics forum. That is utter nonsense. Think of how empty space truly is.
     
  19. Feb 26, 2009 #18
    Not so empty in near earth orbit, it's already full of garbage and getting more added all the time.
     
  20. Feb 26, 2009 #19

    Nabeshin

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Actually, still quite empty in near earth orbit. Even with all the junk we've put up there, there's still plenty of space (the recent satellite collision was a fluke. But the fact that it's never happened before indicates just how empty it still is). Really, you're underestimating the vastness of space. We could shoot as much trash as we want into space on an escape trajectory and probably never notice.
     
  21. Feb 26, 2009 #20
    Till it collided with nirabu and wiped out the entire annunaki civilization... wouldn't you feel like crap then!!!

    :tongue2:
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Is it Possible to Contaminate our Sun?
  1. Why is our sun yellow? (Replies: 66)

Loading...