Sun Shrink: What Would Happen to Sun's Color?

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In summary, if the sun shrank in size its colour would likely become bluer because the fuel would be burning more rapidly to resist gravitation. It's impossible to say for certain what would happen because the word 'shrink' is not well defined in the world of Physics.
  • #1
what do you think would happen to the colour of the sun if it suddenly shrank in size?
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  • #2
I seriously doubt it would happen, but with a smaller surface area to radiate energy, and assuming energy is still being produced, it would look more blue or white.
  • #3
Would its mass remain the same?

You said "shrunk", so I'm assuming yes.

I'm guessing it would get brighter because the fuel would be burning more rapidly to resist gravitation...?
  • #4
Ooops, you said "colour". Missed that...

Another wild guess, but it might look "bluer"...
  • #5
It is is nearly impossible to give a meaningful answer to this question. The word shrink is not well defined in the world of Physics so it is not clear what you mean. There are several ways the sun could shrink. As it burns the supply of Hydorgen the nuclear fires will cool, this means that gravitation will gain the upper hand and cause the sun to "shrink" the cooler temperatures will mean that the sun will be a bit redder.

Now, what do you mean by shrink?
  • #6
I think he/she means "decrease in size" and not by any natural methods, but just... well, just "shrink".

Can't say I like this because he/she is asking us to drop some important physical laws, exactly the ones that are needed for the correct answer...
  • #7
Originally posted by Tail
I think he/she means "decrease in size"
...which is still meaningless. Volume or mass?
  • #8
Can't say I like this because he/she is asking us to drop some important physical laws, exactly the ones that are needed for the correct answer...

first of all, tail, may i tell you that this was my first post. it should have gone in the homework help section. if you think i am looking for an answer you are correct, but not directly from you. I'm sorry if you think i am just looking for a quick answer. perhaps i should have written up what i think about the question so far too...

sorry about the ambiguity of the word 'shrink', but what i think it is referring to is a sudden lessening of the radius due to reason 'x'. think of it just becoming more dense. russ_watters, decrease in volume.

so by using that approach, what i have thought up so far is that energy consumption would increase, there fore as tail mentioned, the colour would be 'bluer'.
could i also include the red giant stage of a star in its life as an argument. as the star increases in size, less denser, it appears 'redder'?

sorry again if this may appear to be an attempt to get quick answers, hope you understand:smile:
  • #9
The color is basicly a function of mass and radius (or temperature, see later)

The mass-luminosity relationship states

Lstar=M3.5star in units of Lsun and Msun.

Now we find the flux E = Lstar/area

E = Lstar/4[pi]r2

From there, the total radiation given off per meter2 = the Stephan-Boltzman constant times the themperature4 or

Tstar= {E/[sig]}1/4

now replacing E with Lstar/4[pi]r2 we see

Tstar= {Lstar/4[pi]r2[sig]}1/4.

Next, we use Wien's law to see [lamb]max=3,000,000/Tstar in nm

So, given mass and radius we can calculate the wavelength of maximum emission of the star by

[lamb]max=3,000,000 / (Lstar/4[pi]r2[sig]}1/4).

and recall that:Lstar=M3.5star

and finally we obtain :

[lamb]max=3,000,000 / (M3.5star/4[pi]r2[sig]}1/4)

where we only need mass and radius and


M= mass
L=luminosity (both in unts of the sun)
[sig]= Stephan-Boltzman constant
[lamb]max= wavelength of maximum emission in nano meters.

We find that the reddest stars are cool and big, large hot stars are blue, and small hot stars are white.

Of course, astronomers are lazy and would just look at a [Broken]

I also need to point out that there are different ways to go about finding the answer depending on what information is given.. Note that mass is the most important measurment we can get. If we know the mass or the (absolute bolometric) luminosity then we can find the radius if we know temperature and vica versa. To know the mass or luminosity we really need a spectroscopic binary or an eclipsling binary, respectivly. But our most accurate measurment of luminosity comes from mass, as it is not possiblt to know exactly how much extinction occurs. We do know stars gain about 1.9 magnitudes per 1000 parsecs distance. I say gain beacuse the lower the magnitude a star is, the brighter it is. Maybe I should say they look 1.9 magnitudes fainter.

Does that clarify things a bit? or did I just confuse you even more ?

I think this is correct, or I hope someone will at least notice and correct me. I may be missing somthing about some of this only applying to main sequence stars. This was a nice refresher, so I'm sure I'm still forgetting much right now.
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  • #10
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be impolite... just tired I guess...
  • #11
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be impolite... just tired I guess...
no need to apologise tail. i appreciate u giving up ur time to help individuals like me

radioactive waves, i have read through it twice...and unfortunately i don't get it. its late night. i'll go over it tomorrow hopefully and then i'll let u know if there were any certain bits i don't get. thanks for ur help.:smile:
  • #12
hi radioactive :smile:

what is flux E?

also how does the finding of (lambda)max help in predicting the colour?

1. What is the concept behind Sun Shrink?

Sun Shrink is a hypothetical scenario where the Sun's size and temperature decrease, causing changes in its color and potentially affecting life on Earth.

2. How likely is it for the Sun to shrink?

The Sun is currently in the middle of its main sequence lifespan, and it is expected to gradually increase in size and temperature over the next few billion years. However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that it will suddenly shrink in the near future.

3. What would happen to the Sun's color if it were to shrink?

If the Sun were to shrink, it would become cooler and its color would shift towards the red end of the spectrum. This is because cooler stars emit more red light than hot stars.

4. How would a change in the Sun's color affect Earth?

A cooler Sun would have significant impacts on Earth, including changes in the planet's climate and the possibility of disrupting ecosystems and food chains. It could also affect the habitability of other planets in the solar system.

5. What can we learn from studying the concept of Sun Shrink?

Studying Sun Shrink can help us better understand the life cycle of stars and the potential effects of changes in their size and temperature. It also highlights the importance of our Sun and its impact on life on Earth.

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