The source of all energy is the Sun?

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I've recently been told by my mentor that the source for all energy is the Sun, which makes sense if were talking about chemical energy in photosynthesis, solar energy, etc. However, if we think about a meteorite which is due to hit the earth, surely we cannot say it got its energy from the Sun :nb)???

Can somebody help clarify my confusion?

Thanks in advance.:cool:
 

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  • #2
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The source of most of the power sources we use is the sun - but not everything. The meteorite is a counterexample (but this is not energy we can use), geothermal energy is a counterexample.
 
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The source of most of the power sources we use is the sun - but not everything. The meteorite is a counterexample (but this is not energy we can use), geothermal energy is a counterexample.
Thanks for that!
 
  • #4
Duz
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Help will be appreciated.

Mentor note -- OP's follow up question was "Does the heat in the Earth's core come from the Sun?"
 
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  • #5
A.T.
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No.
 
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It's heat left over from the formation of the Earth and to a very much lesser extent heat produced from radioactive decays.

In some bodies such as the moons of Jupiter heat is also generated internally from the tidal effect of the large planet's gravity, but there is no such significant heating of that type for Earth.
 
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sophiecentaur
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OTOH, if the Sun were not there, the meteorite would not be in orbit around it (with Gravitational Potential Energy due to the Sun) so, maybe not nuclear energy but still energy 'from' the Sun.
 
  • #8
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It's heat left over from the formation of the Earth and to a very much lesser extent heat produced from radioactive decays.

The OP might be interested to note that the energy received from the decay of Earth's radioactive content ultimately comes from other earlier stars that created those radioactive elements.
 
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Sure, almost every atom the Earth is made of would have at some point in it's history been inside a star, possibly several.
So it's fair to say that everything in Earth all matter and all energy is a result of solar processes one way or another.
Possibly I have replied to the wrong topic here, I thought the question had been about the source of geothermal energy in particular.
 
  • #10
Duz
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Sure, almost every atom the Earth is made of would have at some point in it's history been inside a star, possibly several.
So it's fair to say that everything in Earth all matter and all energy is a result of solar processes one way or another.
Possibly I have replied to the wrong topic here, I thought the question had been about the source of geothermal energy in particular.

Thank you for the response. I thought the Milky Way was born as a result of collisions within a Nebula (I may be wrong). If so, both the sun and thereafter, the earth (with its core) should have also originated from this Nebula?

Thus, this doesn't make sense: "almost every atom the Earth is made of would have at some point in it's history been inside a star".o_Oo_O:frown:
 
  • #11
phyzguy
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It's heat left over from the formation of the Earth and to a very much lesser extent heat produced from radioactive decays.

I hate to nitpick, rootone, but I have to take issue with your "to a very much lesser extent". Studies of this, such as http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v4/n9/full/ngeo1205.html, have shown that the contribution from radioactive decay is slightly larger than the primordial heat left over from the formation of the Earth.
 
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  • #12
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Fair enough,I'm happy to be corrected, I guess my understanding of that had become outdated.
 
  • #13
Bandersnatch
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Thank you for the response. I thought the Milky Way was born as a result of collisions within a Nebula (I may be wrong). If so, both the sun and thereafter, the earth (with its core) should have also originated from this Nebula?

Thus, this doesn't make sense: "almost every atom the Earth is made of would have at some point in it's history been inside a star".o_Oo_O:frown:
The current best theory for the early universe at one point has matter coalescing from radiation. Such matter included mostly hydrogen, some helium, and a tiny amount of lithium. If you were to look at the periodic table of elements, you'll notice that these are the three lightest elements in existence.
These floating clouds of primordial matter collapsed under mutual gravitational attraction to form 'clumps'. On a small scale, these clumps became stars, and the collections of stars became first galaxies.

As the proto-stars collapsed enough to start fusion, the first step towards enriching the universe in heavier elements begun. Stars fuse hydrogen into helium, heavier stars take it further to the neighbourhood of oxygen, silicon and carbon, and the heaviest stars manage to fuse elements as heavy as iron and nickel. Fusion of heavier elements cannot produce energy, so it only happens when the heaviest stars explode in a supernova - the process releases excess energy that is partially consumed in fusing all the remaining (natural) elements of the periodic table.

The death of a star, be it as a supernova, or a less-violent expulsion of outer layers (like what our Sun will do), is the step where the heavier elements formed by the star are released back into space, where they get mixed with the primordial hydrogen and helium.

Over time, more and more heavier elements are produced, enriching the interstellar medium.

Since you, me, and the rest of the Earth are made from stuff that is not only hydrogen (helium never 'makes' anything - it's a noble gas, so it doesn't react with other elements), it means that most of the atoms we're made of were once made in the furnace of one or more dying stars.
 
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  • #14
Duz
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The current best theory for the early universe at one point has matter coalescing from radiation. Such matter included mostly hydrogen, some helium, and a tiny amount of lithium. If you were to look at the periodic table of elements, you'll notice that these are the three lightest elements in existence.
These floating clouds of primordial matter collapsed under mutual gravitational attraction to form 'clumps'. On a small scale, these clumps became stars, and the collections of stars became first galaxies.

As the proto-stars collapsed enough to start fusion, the first step towards enriching the universe in heavier elements begun. Stars fuse hydrogen into helium, heavier stars take it further to the neighbourhood of oxygen, silicon and carbon, and the heaviest stars manage to fuse elements as heavy as iron and nickel. Fusion of heavier elements cannot produce energy, so it only happens when the heaviest stars explode in a supernova - the process releases excess energy that is partially consumed in fusing all the remaining (natural) elements of the periodic table.

The death of a star, be it as a supernova, or a less-violent expulsion of outer layers (like what our Sun will do), is the step where the heavier elements formed by the star are released back into space, where they get mixed with the primordial hydrogen and helium.

Over time, more and more heavier elements are produced, enriching the interstellar medium.

Since you, me, and the rest of the Earth are made from stuff that is not only hydrogen (helium never 'makes' anything - it's a noble gas, so it doesn't react with other elements), it means that most of the atoms we're made of were once made in the furnace of one or more dying stars.

Legendary. Thank you.
 
  • #15
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I'm not so sure about that "most" estimate. We contain mainly water, where 2/3 of the atoms are hydrogen. Which fraction of hydrogen has been in a star at least once? I don't know, but if that fraction is small about 50% of our atoms have never been in a star, but for sure all those hydrogen nuclei (protons) were not made in stars.
 
  • #16
Bandersnatch
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You're right, of course. I shall hastily defend the sloppy wording by insisting that I meant to say 'most by mass' or 'most kinds', rather than 'most by number'.
 
  • #17
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Just for a sense of scale (sourced using a search engine, yielding sites/data believed but not guaranteed to be credible), the current distribution of atomic matter in the observable universe is estimated to be H - 73%, He - 25%, All Other - 2%.

diogenesNY
 
  • #18
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Energy of tides as result of Earth-Moon gravitational binding is another counterexample
 
  • #19
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I've recently been told by my mentor that the source for all energy is the Sun, which makes sense if were talking about chemical energy in photosynthesis, solar energy, etc. However, if we think about a meteorite which is due to hit the earth, surely we cannot say it got its energy from the Sun :nb)???

Can somebody help clarify my confusion?

Thanks in advance.:cool:

A very small part of the earth’s heat budget comes from non-solar sources. These include the steady flow of heat from the earth’s molten interior to the surface of the planet and radiation from parts of the universe other than the sun. Heat flux from the interior is the next largest source of energy after insolation, but is still less than twenty thousandths of one percent of the solar energy input. The total energy from the rest of the universe is even less. The energy that mankind releases to the atmosphere in an entire year is less than the Earth gets from the Sun in ten minutes. All non-solar sources put together are—for all intents and purposes—insignificant in devising heat budgets for the earth and its components and in understanding climatic changes.
 
  • #20
Suraj M
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The energy that mankind releases to the atmosphere in an entire year is less than the Earth gets from the Sun in ten minutes. All non-solar sources put together are—for all intents and purposes—insignificant
what happens when we master fusion, any part of that process, solar(in origin)?
 
  • #21
phyzguy
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what happens when we master fusion, any part of that process, solar(in origin)?

No. Nuclear energy, both fission and fusion, do not come from the sun.
 
  • #22
sophiecentaur
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No. Nuclear energy, both fission and fusion, do not come from the sun.
Yes.
This thread is a bit futile, really, because (most of) the elements in the Sun were all part of an Earlier Star, which would have gone Nova - in order to have formed the heavy elements that are present there and on Earth.
At an initial and slightly trivial level, it can be said that most of the energy available on Earth is solar based (renewables and fossil fuels) but the radioactive materials we use are much older than the age of the Sun so they can't really be said to be 'from the Sun'.
As usual, threads involving Classification seldom get us much further on with our deeper understanding.
 
  • #23
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what happens when we master fusion, any part of that process, solar(in origin)?

This is a speculative question. I prefer not to strain the PF's new-found tolerance of discussions on climate change by indulging in speculation. Almost all of the real nastiness in this world-wide discussion deals with speculation on what the future may or may not hold. I prefer to deal with what the weight of scientific evidence has shown us about the past and shows us about the present.

I say let's keep the PF discussion purely scientific and avoid all expressions of opinion--no matter how exalted or revered the source of this opinion. As Sgt. Friday used to plead, "Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts!"
 
  • #24
phyzguy
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This is a speculative question. I prefer not to strain the PF's new-found tolerance of discussions on climate change by indulging in speculation. Almost all of the real nastiness in this world-wide discussion deals with speculation on what the future may or may not hold. I prefer to deal with what the weight of scientific evidence has shown us about the past and shows us about the present.

I say let's keep the PF discussion purely scientific and avoid all expressions of opinion--no matter how exalted or revered the source of this opinion. As Sgt. Friday used to plead, "Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts!"

Huh? What part of the question is speculative? The question was, "what happens when we master fusion, any part of that process, solar(in origin)?" The answer is no. Fusion energy produced here on Earth does not come from the sun. Many fusion experiments here on Earth are producing energy (although less energy than is used to set up the experiments), and the energy produced does not come from the sun. When an H-bomb is exploded, the energy produced does not come from the sun.
 
  • #25
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All energy (even fusion) is produced in this Solar system is ultimately due to the Sun. If anyone here accepts that energy is merely transformed, fusion cannot be produced without a kinetic (nuclear push). Even fission bombs use chemical (molecular...solar based) triggers. The energy to gather fissionable and futile materials must also be solar based. Even tidal and geothermal sources are due to the gravitational force of the Sun. Thermodynamics 101. A comet hitting the earth turns kinetic energy into heat energy. It got this kinetic energy from the gravitational pull of the Sun. Come on folks. You can't Create energy.
 

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