Why doesn't the sun explode?

  • Thread starter Nakisima
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

I've recreated one of the first experiments I did in Chemistry many times - Water electrolysis to split it into Hydrogen and Oxygen, and prove the existence of hydrogen with a burning splint that goes "pop" in the test tube. The Sun is a massive ball of hydrogen, that uses Nuclear fusion to turn it into Helium. Helium explodes; the Hindenburg proved it, and so does Hydrogen, so why doesn't the sun just explode?
 

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  • #2
russ_watters
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Oy.

The Hindenberg was filled with hydrogen, so it exploded when mixed with air (oxygen). Helium is not reactive.

The sun's fusion is at equilibrium. The more energy generated by fusion, the more the sun wants to fly apart, but if it flies apart it doesn't create enough pressure to create fusion. Some stars actually oscillate, expanding and contracting over and over, but in the main sequence they are in a stable equilibrium.
 
  • #3
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I've recreated one of the first experiments I did in Chemistry many times - Water electrolysis to split it into Hydrogen and Oxygen, and prove the existence of hydrogen with a burning splint that goes "pop" in the test tube. The Sun is a massive ball of hydrogen, that uses Nuclear fusion to turn it into Helium. Helium explodes; the Hindenburg proved it, and so does Hydrogen, so why doesn't the sun just explode?
A chemical explosion of the variety you are referring to is usually caused by something burning very quickly, which requires oxygen. There is only a small amount of oxygen in the sun (in comparison to hydrogen) so it would never actually manage to burn. Not the mention the fact that the sun itself is too hot for molecules to form as any chemical bonds formed would break immediatly. Also the Hindenburg Airship used Hydrogen for buoyancy not Helium, Helium is inert and hence doesn't burn.
 
  • #4
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Oy.

The Hindenberg was filled with hydrogen
My mistake, history was not my forte.
 
  • #5
778
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My mistake, history was not my forte.
Another point of history is that the great big flames from the Hindenberg were from the fabric coating the airship's structure - it was painted with highly flammable aluminum compounds. While the hydrogen did burn, the real trigger for the disaster was ignition of the fabric.
 

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