The Sun is evil, we must destroy it by any means possible to us today!

Can we destroy it? Or at least shorten it's lifespan.

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    $\begingroup$ Today's tech? Not even remotely close. And I mean even remotely close; we can do practically nothing to it. ...Unless waiting it out is an option. Then we can destroy it for sure. $\endgroup$ – Ranger Aug 29 '16 at 2:40
  • $\begingroup$ That's also a good way to commit suicide. Destroy the sun and we destroy ourselves very shortly thereafter. $\endgroup$ – John Feltz Aug 29 '16 at 2:51
  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "destroy"? Does that mean blowing it apart? Making it go nova? Snuffing it out? Overcoming it's gravitational energy (ie. blow it apart)? $\endgroup$ – Schwern Aug 29 '16 at 3:41
  • $\begingroup$ Okay I can sympathize with you, sometimes solar flare do disrupt my Pokemon Go fun but that doesn't mean you should take it out on the sun. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Aug 29 '16 at 6:07
  • $\begingroup$ We can't really, but pick up Stephen Baxters "Ring" for ideas about how "they" might. $\endgroup$ – Guran Aug 29 '16 at 6:13


By any definition of "destroy". Why?

Hitting The Sun Is Hard.

It's much, much easier to get out of the solar system than it is to reach the Sun.

With all that gravity you'd think we'd just fall into it. The reality is we're in an orbit going at 30km/s. To reach the Sun directly from Earth you need to kill that velocity, a delta-V of 30km/s. How fast is this? Escape velocity of the Solar System is only 12km/s. Our fastest spaceships (Voyager and New Horizons) are only going at about 17km/s. Since there's nothing to brake against in space, that would all have to be done with rocket fuel.

You can be more efficient by first moving to the outer solar system where orbital speeds are slower, using a gravity assist off Jupiter to slow yourself, and then retro-firing.

Minute Physics has a great video about this.

Since it's very hard to reach the Sun. This greatly limits the amount of stuff we could throw at the Sun, which leads us to the next problem...

We can't get to the Sun.

After all your electronics fry from the heat, your spacecraft will melt.

To give you an idea, the proposed Solar Probe Plus will use our best technology to keep it from burning up, and it will only get within 6 million km of the Sun. It can only do this because it's highly eccentric orbit takes it out to 110 million km to cool off.

Assuming it's going the 200 km/s that Solar Probe Plus will, it will take 8 hours for our spacecraft to cross that 6 million km with ever increasing heat and radiation. Ionizing radiation will fry even hardened electronics. Worse, it will have nowhere to dump all the heat it's absorbing. All seals and gaskets will melt. Eventually the aluminum of the hull will melt at 1000K.

SciShow Space has a video about How Close Can We Get To The Sun. There's also this quote from physicist David Bofinger.

If we put it in orbit around the Earth, then it's about 150 million kilometres from the Sun and the temperature it reaches is 279 Kelvin, i.e. about 6 degrees Centigrade. (Earth is mostly warmer than this because it has greenhouse gases in its atmosphere.) To melt the aluminium in the spaceship we need to take it into 13 million kilometres, about a twelfth of the distance from Earth and four times closer than Mercury.

Of course there's all sorts of tricks we can play to get closer. We can make the spaceship silvery on the side facing the Sun and black on the side facing space. That will make it absorb less and radiate more. If we made it as white as snow on the Sun side and black as coal on the space side then we could get in as close as 6 million kilometres, about eight times closer than Mercury and twenty-five times closer than Earth. If we made the spaceship long and thin and pointed it toward the sun we could maximise our ability to dump heat compared with how much we absorbed. That might get us in a little close yet. If we pull out all the stops we might do as well as NASA's planned solar probe, which intends approaching within 6.6 million kilometres of the sun while staying cool enough to have functional electronics and cameras.

We're just too puny.

If we can somehow get them there, and keep their firing mechanisms from frying...

We'll fire a few nukes at it, right? Yeah! Always works in the movies! The largest nuke, the Tsar Bomba, put out 2.1×1017 Joules of energy.

The Sun generates 3.8×1026 Joules of energy. Per second. That's 1 billion Tsar Bombs per second. The Sun wouldn't notice one more.

Let's throw all the nukes at it! The US arsenal is about 1,215 megatons and the Russians probably have about the same. 2,500 megatons of TnT is about 1019 Joules. The Sun puts out this amount of energy 10 million times per second. It wouldn't notice one more.

What if we threw everything we have at it? The total energy consumed by humans per year is 5x1020 J. In one year we consume 1/1,000,000 the energy the Sun produces in one second. We simply don't have the energy production to launch into space to affect the Sun.

What if we literally threw everything at it? Literally the whole Earth! We can't... but if we could, the Sun is 330,000 times more massive than the Earth, so it would have to be going pretty fast. Kinetic energy = 1/2 mass * velocity2 so it's easy to calculate.

If we somehow stopped the Earth in its orbit and let it fall into the Sun it would impact at 30km/s with the energy of 2.7x1033 J. This is a lot of energy, but it's only a fifth of what the Sun puts out in a year. It might slightly perturb the Sun's position, but it wouldn't "destroy" the Sun.

At the speed of our fastest spacecraft, 200km/s, the Earth has 1.2x1035 J which is the energy output of the Sun over 10 years. Getting up there!

At 1/10th the speed of light, the Earth has 2.7x1039 J. That will certainly do some damage, but it won't "destroy" the Sun.

To "destroy" the Sun, blow it apart Death Star style, we'd need to overcome it's gravitational binding energy. That's 6.87×1041 J. To do that we'd have to fire the Earth at the Sun at 9/10ths the speed of light. We can't do that.


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  • $\begingroup$ At least the Voyagers cheated by using multiple gravity assists on their way through the solar system; it's what made the missions practically possible in the first place, and those gravity assists were made possible by a rare (several hundred years period) planetary lineup that happened around that time. I don't recall whether New Horizons used gravity assists or not, but I suspect it did. $\endgroup$ – user Aug 29 '16 at 6:29
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling New Horizons picked up 4km/s from Jupiter. And Solar Probe Plus will use seven gravity assists from Venus to get closer to the Sun. $\endgroup$ – Schwern Aug 29 '16 at 6:33
  • $\begingroup$ Sounds plauible, both. And since I'm not sure it's plausible to slingshot the Earth around either Jupiter or Venus (and you certainly won't be getting the same benefit, due to the much smaller difference in mass between the bodies involved), so we'd have to figure out how to get that $\Delta v$ in some other way... $\endgroup$ – user Aug 29 '16 at 6:35
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling Uhh, I'd worry about how we'd shift the Earth in its orbit at all before trying any fancy maneuvers. I brought up throwing the Earth at the Sun to illustrate just how honey badger the Sun is about what we try to do to it. $\endgroup$ – Schwern Aug 29 '16 at 6:36
  • $\begingroup$ That's pretty much my point. We can't do even the basics against something as massive as the Earth; as a consequence, none of the effort-saving tricks such as gravity slingshots are available to us. (And I agree with the point you are making. We can barely destroy the Earth, let alone the Sun...) $\endgroup$ – user Aug 29 '16 at 6:39

There's nothing we can currently do to destroy, disassemble, or accelerate the exhaustion of our Sun's fuel.

The two basic ways you might approach destroying a star are adding matter to it to accelerate the nuclear fusion (and all the matter in our solar system couldn't do much to accomplish this, nevermind the impossibility of the task of getting it all to drop into the Sun) and disassembling it to halt the process of nuclear fusion. We can't do anything on this front currently, and unless you have a gun that fires gravitational strings up your sleeve probably won't be able to for the foreseeable future.

Someone might be able to devise a particle cannon that could target the sun and prevail against the solar winds to increase the rate of fusion (for our star, only dumping neutrons or alpha particles (Helium nuclei) would help speed things along), but even if you could get them there, getting enough of them there to make a real difference would require so much power that it simply won't be possible until we've harnessed energy sources far beyond anything we have access to now. This special case of your broader question is discussed here (Shooting an energy beam into the Sun (from the Earth) in order to destroy it), and has an excellent answer.

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