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This question is about a fictional scenario where an evil suicidal scientist has built a high-energy weapon somewhere on earth. His intention is to shoot a beam of some form of energy (or high-energy particles) to the sun, in order to disturb the nuclear fusion processes and in process kill all life on earth (well, he is evil after all).

Besides the fact that it is not known what form of energy to beam to the sun in order to disturb it sufficiently, what technological hurdles would the scientist have to overcome? What would be the plausible minimum amount of energy needed for something like this?

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  • $\begingroup$ I won't post another "it's difficult" answer, but the Sun Crusher may be of interest if you don't mind unfathomable tech from SciFi. $\endgroup$ – Crabgor Dec 12 '14 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ The sun makes up some 99% of the mass in the solar system. I don't believe there is enough energy to be found on the entire planet to harm it. $\endgroup$ – Aurast Dec 12 '14 at 15:42
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    $\begingroup$ If he has enough energy to fire a beam to disrupt the Sun, it might be easier for him to just directly target the Earth with it. $\endgroup$ – GrandmasterB Dec 12 '14 at 17:09
  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean 'disturb'? Are you looking for the crazy theory that might destroy (or effectively 'shut down') the sun for a plot device?, or are you looking to be told, no there's not enough energy in this solar system to do it from earth? $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Dec 12 '14 at 17:15
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    $\begingroup$ Ditch the science, it won't help you, unless you can come up with some really convincing technobabble. According to out current knowledge and technology it's not possible. Make your life easier and make your evil scientist hunt down last worshippers of some ancient Sun-centred religion, who were actually right all along :) That will make a nice plot twist :) $\endgroup$ – Darth Hunterix Dec 12 '14 at 19:48

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You simply would not be able to do it with raw energy alone. Using a table that I simply love, consider three lines:

  • $3.9×10^{22}\text{ J }$ estimated energy contained in the world's fossil fuel reserves as of 2010
  • $2.2×10^{23}\text{ J }$ total global uranium-238 resources using fast reactor technology
  • $3.8×10^{26}\text{ J }$ total energy output of the Sun each second

Every single second, the sun outputs more than a thousand times the sum of all of the fossil fuel and nuclear fusion fuel we believe exist on the Earth! The sun is just that powerful!

For your scientist to destroy the sun, he would need to reign in his Testosterone, and concentrate on style rather than raw power. He will never beat the sun at raw power. However, if, in your fictional world, he identifies a weakness in the shape or distribution of the sun which, upon striking, could affect the sun in a non-obvious way. Perhaps he could identify a particular spot near a solar flare where there is a potential chain reaction that would allow him to use the sun's energy against it (Judo style). The options are limitless here: science is not aware of any such weakness to date, but it has not proved that such a weakness does not exist, so as a creative person, you have all the creative license you need.

Just remember that a lot of random things happen in the over one million Earths worth of volume that makes up the sun. Make sure your plot device is not something that a reader would think could accidentally occur over a few billion years in that volume -- otherwise they will have to wonder why it hasn't gone boom by random luck already!

As for minimum energy, that depends on how sharp of a weakness you exploit. If you can rely on the sun to amplify the energy you direct, just a few perfect joules would be believable (though for the readers, I'd probably give it more juice). I would concentrate less on "how much energy" vs. the precision of how he can deliver the energy. For example, an energy weapon that is just a laser-beam will be easily bent in unpredictable ways by the sun's sheer magnetic forces, but a wide distributed array of beams might be able to create a region of stability for the final beam to strike.

Nasty frequencies might be an option too. Consider that all of this talk of energy is macroscopic. The microscopic world of QM offers markedly different and noninutitive options. The highest energy a point-like particle could have is 1 Planck-energy, which is about $1.956 × 10^9\text{ J}$. Any more than that, and QM predicts that the particle will start to behave macroscopically. That is not a lot of energy: its about as much chemical energy as you have in your gas tank. If you threw a gas tank at the sun, it wouldn't even notice. However, throwing just one high-energy photon near the Planck-energy limit could have tremendously different effects (so different that I will have to defer to someone with more QM knowledge to even play with such waveforms). Consider another energy table (this one is in eV, and very approximate):

  • $~2-3\text{eV}$ - light energy that we can see
  • $10-100\text{eV}$ - ultraviolet, that can ionize our skin and cause a sunburn
  • $100-1000\text{eV}$ - XRays, which are so good at causing cancer that we limit their use in medicine
  • $10000000\text{eV}$ - Lower range of a gamma ray discharged by lightning
  • $12200000000000000000000000000 \text{eV}$ or $1.22 \times 10^{26} \text{eV}$ - Planck-energy -or- one tank of gas

If you are playing with single photons with energy like that, the laws of physics are... a tad different. You can get a lot of odd behaviors once energy gets that high.

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    $\begingroup$ Result would be some tickling of the sun. Easily to be ignored. We can hope that blood pressure of the evil genius will increase enough after nothing happens and he will get stroke. $\endgroup$ – Peter M. - stands for Monica Dec 12 '14 at 18:21
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    $\begingroup$ Technically, it's not known that the Planck energy is the highest energy a particle can have. The Planck energy is just a unit of energy. There are reasons to suspect that a single particle with more than some threshold energy, where the threshold is on the order of (but not necessarily equal to) the Planck mass, would be a black hole. $\endgroup$ – David Z Dec 13 '14 at 6:08
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    $\begingroup$ In the novel "Sunstorm" by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter, a bunch of sufficiently advanced aliens throw a jupiter-size gas giant into the sun to trigger a super solar flare to sterilize earth (2000 years later). It almost destroys humanity and the Earth ecosystem, but doesn't do much permanent damage to the planets or the sun itself. $\endgroup$ – Philipp Dec 13 '14 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ that table is the best thing ever. An elephant gun firing uses the same energy as a single AA battery! $\endgroup$ – roryok Dec 13 '14 at 15:06
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    $\begingroup$ All we can say is that existing theories don't accurately describe reality at high energy, like the Planck energy. Quantum theory and GR are low-energy approximations to something, but we don't know what that something is. (black holes are probably involved somehow) So there's no solid scientific basis for saying that there's a maximum energy a particle can have. On the bright side, this lack of knowledge leaves a lot of room for creativity. You could definitely invent a world where there is a maximum energy that an elementary particle could have. $\endgroup$ – David Z Dec 14 '14 at 7:14
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Your mad scientist faces two problems.

You would need $2\times 10^{41}~\mathrm{J}$ to blow apart the sun.

Anything less than this and gravity simply pulls the sun back together. As mentioned before this is an unimaginable amount of energy. (Although less than a percent of the total energy the sun will emit in its lifetime). This is equivalent to around 40% of the mass-energy of the Earth. Already it seems destroying the Earth is a better bet.

The sun is too small to go supernova.

The smallest type of supernova is a type Ia, where a white dwarf of around 1.4 solar masses has just enough mass added to it that it collapses further, igniting fusion through the whole star. Stars less massive than this are not dense enough for any thermal runaway process to occur. Essentially you would need to rapidly age the sun billions of years and then increase its mass by 40% to re-ignite fusion.

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  • $\begingroup$ You may not know what could happen in the core, unless you are a nuclear fusion physicist. Don’t remember where exactly, but Ī read an opinion of a professional astrophysicist that Sun can explode if the core went overheated for some (mysterious) reason. $\endgroup$ – Incnis Mrsi Dec 13 '14 at 9:13
  • $\begingroup$ @IncnisMrsi I am not a nuclear physicist but I am taking stellar astrophysics. While there is the possibility that some as-yet-to-be-discovered mechanism could destabilize a 1 Msun star in the middle of its life, there is no way to do it with a reasonable amount of energy. $\endgroup$ – 2012rcampion Dec 14 '14 at 6:46
  • $\begingroup$ "A percent of the total energy the sun will emit in its lifetime" is also approximately "the amount of energy the sun emits in 100 million years"... As a back-of-the-napkin kind of calculation, I suspect we are then talking about roughly the amount of energy the sun has emitted, total, between the time when dinosaurs walked on Earth and today. Only a miniscule fraction of that was actually directed at Earth... $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 15 '15 at 22:28
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what technological hurdles would the scientist have to overcome?

That it's effectively impossible?

I mean, the only way that this would plausibly work is that somehow the energy beam causes even more fusion to occur, chewing up the fuel or simply making the sun hotter to burn away the people. And the problem with that is that so much energy being shot from Earth would be enough to fry basically everyone on the planet before it ever got to the sun.

There are a few hundred easier ways to kill everyone on Earth.

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  • $\begingroup$ Actually the reverse would be easier - a beam that shuts off fusion in the core. The sun would collapse by gravity and become a small supernova. $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Dec 12 '14 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ @oldcat - sure, but adding energy to the system isn't going to do that... $\endgroup$ – Telastyn Dec 12 '14 at 18:03
  • $\begingroup$ this is true.... $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Dec 12 '14 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ A beam doesn't have to add energy, e.g. doppler cooling $\endgroup$ – Tom J Nowell Dec 18 '14 at 3:22
  • $\begingroup$ I would not easily say that something is impossible. I would just say that we don't know how to do that, yet. The amount of energy required, using the methods we know of now, is just not feasible. But I think it is good to remember that flying in a machine up in the air like the birds was once thought of as a fool's errand. Perhaps nothing is impossible. Maybe we just don't live in the right time to understand how this is done. Five hundred years ago, bacterial infections were thought to be the work of supernatural spirits blowing in on the wind. Five hundred years ago, they were. $\endgroup$ – Skeptycal Apr 1 at 16:57
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I can think of a few ways:

  • Stream of small black holes, that could eat up the sun slowly from the inside by bouncing around inside it. [@Forest's interest pushed me to calculate this: to avoid evaporating before reaching the sun when fired at light speed, each would need a Schwarzchild radius larger than 2*10^-21m (~one millionth of an electron's classical radius), giving a mass larger than 1.8 million kg. At that speed it'd reach the sun with a little mass left over after 8 minutes: but time goes up with the cube of the mass, and the radius goes up linearly with mass, so you can drop the velocity to reasonable levels without adding much size... but you're already handwaving away the creation of black holes, so adding in silly velocities seems almost trivial... This all assumes normal 3D spacetime, that relativity works on small scales, that Hawking radiation is a thing, etc.]

  • A one-dimensional singularity string, rather than a series of black holes.

  • Some mechanism to cover the sun in sunspots and hence darken it significantly.

  • Some mechanism to block out the sun, by placing something at an orbit that would block most of the sun, most of the time, from most of the earth.

None of these work in a "hard-scifi" setting, but could be OK in a soft scifi one.


Edit: OK, just realized another problem with the black hole thing. We need them to hit the sun's surface at below the escape velocity from the sun, or they'll just fly through and come out the other side, never to be seen again. So we can't just handwave and say "8 minutes, going at light speed".

We need to figure out the correct upper bound for the speed to fire from earth, to get them to arrive at 618km/s velocity needed to remain within the sun's gravity.

And let's say we want to not hit the Earth with these black holes, too. That means we need a velocity lower than needed to get from the sun to Earth. Kinda hard, if you're firing something from Earth. Then you have to fire the stream from a sol-stationary satellite, backwards along earth's orbital path at exactly our orbital velocity, so the holes fall under gravity towards the sun. You can handwave that you can fire it from the planet's surface facing the sun, too, since the holes should be slowed at least a LITTLE by passing through the sun.

You need to do this at Earth's point of closest approach, perihelion, about 147.5 million km away from the Sun.

Now we need to know how long it would take to fall that 147.5 Gm down the sun's gravity well.Thankfully, smarter people than I have done the math (http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/39-our-solar-system/the-earth/other-catastrophes/57-how-long-would-it-take-the-earth-to-fall-into-the-sun-intermediate) and come up with "65 days".

65 days is rather more than 8 minutes, so we need bigger black holes.

Now here, I'm just trusting some random guy on the internet (https://www.quora.com/How-fast-do-black-holes-evaporate/answer/Henry-Norman-3) for the equation, but I'm fine with that since the answers it gives seem in vaguely the right ballpark and I'm sure people will shout at me if we're wrong.

EvaporationTime = 5120 * pi * gravitationalConstant^2 * mass^3/(reducedPlanckConstant * lightSpeed ^ 4)

...where everything is in SI units.

Now, we want the mass, so we can rearrange that to get:

mass = CubeRoot((EvaporationTime * reducedPlanckConstant * lightSpeed ^ 4) / (5120 * pi * gravitationalConstant^2))

Assuming I didn't cock that up, we can plug in all the values we know:

mass = PrincipalCubeRoot((65*24*60*60 seconds * reducedPlanckConstant * (lightSpeed ^ 4)) / (5120 * pi * (gravitationalConstant^2)))

We slap that into Wolfram Alpha, and get: 4.057×10^7 kg

To figure the Schwarzchild radius, via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schwarzschild_radius, we use:

radius = 2 * GravitationalConstant * Mass / (lightSpeed^2) = 2 * 4.057 * 10^7 kg * GravitationalConstant / (lightSpeed^2) = 6.025×10^-20 meters So, 30 times larger than the radius we could get away with at light speed, but still about 1/50,000th of the size of an electron radius. Pretty small.


There remain unanswered questions.

The first such question, of course, is... would these black holes have ANY effect on the sun? Or would they just, given their insignificant size, just zip right through it, and oscillate through in an "orbit" with a 260 day cycle and a radius of about 1AU?

And this, I don't have an answer to. I don't know how to begin calculating how wide of an area these black holes could pull in particles from in its path at those velocities.

Because, to do actual damage to the sun, we need each black hole to be large enough when it hits the sun that it will absorb more mass from its path through the sun, than the mass evaporated in the following 130 days before it returns to the sun again.

And we also need to calculate how MUCH damage it will do on each pass. This will increase each time, as the hole becomes more massive. Intuitively, I feel it should get exponentially worse, gobbling up more and more sun each pass through, perhaps doubling the damage each time, but I don't know that's the case, or whether it would take forever for it to eat away the sun a few atoms at a time.

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    $\begingroup$ Black holes are extremely energetic while feeding, one inside the sun should blow it up long before it consumed it. $\endgroup$ – PatFromCanada Apr 26 '17 at 17:05
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    $\begingroup$ @DewiMorgan Hm :) Going by the 2×10^41 J energy requirement given by 2012rcampion, which is equivalent to a mass of 2.225×10^24 kg, you need to direct 30 lunar masses to explode the sun "conventionally". Might this even be energy-saving? $\endgroup$ – BenRW Mar 29 at 12:29
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    $\begingroup$ @DewiMorgan When I hear "small", I'm assuming the kind that are created in our upper atmosphere all the time due to high-energy cosmic rays. Those do evaporate effectively instantly. They aren't stable black holes. In fact, the smallest ones are so small that they'll be unlikely to absorb even a single atom in their lifetimes. $\endgroup$ – forest Mar 29 at 23:57
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    $\begingroup$ I'm surprised no one is mentioning using a kugelblitz. A couple VERY powerful lasers focused VERY finely onto a VERY small point could create a small blackhole near the surface of the sun. It's also a very sensitive process that can be interrupted by the protagonist. $\endgroup$ – Muuski Apr 5 at 19:25
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It would take a lot of energy to disrupt the sun. This question had a good answer for just blowing up the earth.

You add to that the fact the sun is a long way from earth and ~333,000 times as massive and already a huge ball of energy? you might need to turn most of the moon directly into energy just to generate enough power to have a negative affect on the sun. The discharge to shoot the sun will likely be more than enough to kill the earth.

To shut off the fusion reaction or make go into over drive (supernova), I would expect some kind of n-dimensional physics that we haven't even imagined yet to have a chance of killing a star.

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    $\begingroup$ A supernova happens when fusion effectively stops giving energy when iron starts to fuse. The iron burning and neutrino flash carry out the core's energy and the star collapses in. This crush starts fusion on the new matter in basically an instant and the star blows up. $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Dec 12 '14 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Oldcat you always have good information to dole out! $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Dec 12 '14 at 18:09
  • $\begingroup$ According to the book, The Disappearing Spoon, the reason stars are pretty well-behaved is that as a star gets hotter, the atoms within in it get more spread out and are thus fuse less often. When lighter elements fuse, they give off heat, which slows down the fusion reaction. Heavier elements don't give off heat when they fuse, so stars which run out of lighter elements have nothing to stop their collapse beyond the matter which starts at the outside will pick up a lot of kinetic energy as it approaches the center, and all that energy has to go somewhere. $\endgroup$ – supercat Dec 12 '14 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ You mentioned the moon, and I wondered if that would be even easier to blow up than the earth, with (nearly) the same consequences? Assuming most of the moon impacts Earth. $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Dec 12 '14 at 21:55
  • $\begingroup$ @DoubleDouble I would expect it to be much easier and even a small fraction falling to earth would do a good job of wiping out all living things bigger than a cockroaches I would think $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Dec 12 '14 at 23:50
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(Not an energy beam, but a wormhole)

Stargate SG-1 has an answer in Red Sky, the fifth episode of the fifth season:

A mission to K'tau causes the planet's sun to die out, after the wormhole traveled through it, causing it to be unstable...

Stargate SG-1 has another answer in Exodus, the twenty second episode of the fourth season:

Major Samantha Carter and Jacob [...] plan to destroy [Apophis] fleet by blowing up Vorash's sun. This would be done by throwing the Stargate currently on Vorash into the sun while it is connected to P3W-451 – the planet where they found the black hole.

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  • $\begingroup$ The second example would, as I recall, essentially be turning the sun's energy into fuel for the explosion, no? Or was this before they came up with the fancy energy-enhancing properties of the frames? $\endgroup$ – Crabgor Dec 12 '14 at 20:08
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In order to get the sun to go out you have to stop the fusion process and one way to do that is to eliminate the effects of gravity.

Scenario 1: In scenario 1, you direct a beam of dark energy at the sun. Dark energy is responsible for the accelerated expansion of the universe. Perhaps a concentrated beam would have the affect of counteracting the sun's gravity, causing the fusion process to stop and the sun would go out.

This of course assumes you figure out what dark energy actually is, can harness it and then direct it at the sun.

Scenario 2: Another idea along similar lines is to develop an anti-gravity beam. This beam would either need to encompass the sun or have a cascading affect across the whole sun.

Without the force of gravity holding the sun together and driving the fusion process, it would explode or perhaps just fade out with the hydrogen drifting away into space.

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The obvious and easy solution is for the scientist to find a way to alter a suitable universal constant temporarily in the core of the sun. I suggest fine structure constant, which I think wouldn't need to be altered much at all to radically slow down nuclear fusion in the core of the Sun. Wikipedia article talks about some numbers, but those are just certain limits, any change will alter the rate of fusion as function of pressure/temperature.

So, the scientist points his high-energy universal constant altering weapon at the sun and leaves it doing its thing. If done in a controlled fashion, the core would start to contract slowly, releasing gravitational energy instead of fusion energy, and nothing much would be noticed from the Earth for a long while. Only the massive power bill regularly sent to a distant volcano or to the dark side of the Moon or whatever would hint at something bad going on.

Then, after the density of the core would have gone up the right amount, simply let the universal constant to return to the normal value within the now hyper-compressed core of the sun, and you get an instant nuclear fusion of the entire core, resulting in a explosion with power up to a type Ia supernova, which is basically the entire dead core of a sun-like star undergoing nuclear fusion in a single flash.

This would also make a perfect blackmail device... Switch it off suddenly and KABLOOIE. Let it keep running and ramp the universal constant back to normal really slowly, and everyone will be saved.

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I'm surprised the physics majors didn't jump in to offer a more scientific answer. However, since the Sun is approximately at 149 million km from Earth and 15 700 times the size, the Earth would have to collide 15 700 times to effect 1:1 per volume, indicating the impossibility of delivery and potential influence should be evident and is most likely the reason that someone hasn't already done it. But then, there is the nuclear possibility, which would make it very possible in both delivery and influence, a really scary possibility for some Lex Luthor out there. Now, I'm going back to sleep.

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The sun loses about 4 million tonnes of mass per second, if you apply Einstein's formula E = mc2 to its radiated power output.

Barring some exotic (made up) star-disrupting technique, you'd think that energy on this scale would be required to even have a hope of physically disturbing the sun's core and stopping it from continuing to operate as a star in its usual way. A second's worth of "what it does all the time anyway" isn't obviously going to do the sun any long-term damage.

To do it that way, the scientist's beam generator would somehow have to consume something at least of the order of 4 million tonnes of mass per second and convert that all to energy. This is more energy in a second than the human race has ever generated by all means, put together. And of course, any effect that can physically disturb a star is going to do a lot worse than that to the earth if he simply points it down instead of up.

So, I think you need to look at more subtle ways than brute force, to do something to the sun that upsets the earth. For example, a Coronal mass ejection can mess with electronics and even power grids on earth. If you imagine some pseudo-scientific technique to provoke a "super-ejection", directed at earth, then you could make the planet or at least its biosphere fairly unhappy for a far more modest expenditure of energy.

You would at that point be inventing how much energy is required to guide the sun into doing something destructive to the earth. The energy required could plausibly be almost as small as you like, for the same reason that a tiny mosquito can plausibly cause a horse to kick someone to death, by biting it in the right place at the right time!

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Invent new physics

How I read the question:

How can my mad scientist throw a water balloon at the ocean in order to destroy it?

Obviously that will not happen with any present known real physics.

However, if you invent some new physics for the purpose of your story, then you will have little problems, since it has already been done, both for stars (Star Trek Generations) and for oceans (Cat's Cradle)

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How about creating an alcubierre drive style warp bubble inside the sun. With enough size it could theoretically send parts of the sun flying away. Am not sure if it could be done but this is just a suggestion to expand on.

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Send the Sun down the drain: make a wormhole that links the surface of the star to a much more massive black hole, and let the burning gas escape due to gravity pull of the black hole.

So, two problems now... A) creating a wormhole on command, B) pinpoint acuracy wormhole creation. Have fun!

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As a non physicist I can only give you a partial answer.

The sun is already unstable in and of the fact that different regions move at different speeds within a charged medium. Periodically the charged medium creaetes a large ejection of plasma (solar flare). It should be possible to change the polarity of the upper level and release enough plasma to destroy or make the earth unlivable (an event similar to this in the 1850s destroying massive amounts of telegraph lines -- obviously the humans didn't cause this).

To make this more feasible / defray costs create an extremely large bussard ram scoop and some minor polarization on the sun the, and a way to take the (soon to be initial) flare energy and turn into magnetic energy. Once the flare activates the scoop feed the energy back into the sun by way of more ionization.

Alternately you could employ the waiting beam. In 5 billion years the sun will destablize due to lack of fuel and swallow the earth.

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I have seen it suggested that a sufficient energy density at a point in the outer layers of the sun can create a self-sustaining blast that propagates around the sun--epic solar flare. Obtaining that density will almost certainly involve shooting an object at the sun rather than a beam, though.

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I believe there is a sci-fi book out there, probably by Piers Anthony, that has two parallel universes and beings from one of the universes are draining the energy from the other, which eventually causes some kind of imbalance with disastrous results to the host universe suns... something about the net balance of particles, etc., and the host suns having to work to maintain the balance, or some such theory. I will try to find the book and post the title, but I think the author is Piers Anthony.

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  • $\begingroup$ Also, The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Dec 13 '14 at 2:03
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All guys saying “you need 10blah-blah joules to achieve it” lie (although Ī am not astonished with their impunity, knowing how StackExchange works). There are two aspects of their lie. First is an assumption that inflicting a catastrophic damage to Solar System requires gravitational unbinding of Sun. Not so: red giant stars (BTW, a prospected stage of our Sun in few billions years) routinely shed circumstellar gas shells that could incinerate planets, such as Earth, with ease (albeit having only millionth parts of the star’s mass).

Second is ignorance in nuclear physics and composition of Sun’s core. It contain a sizable amount of 4He that can fuse to 12C and other its nuclear “multiples” really fast. This would inevitably result in a cataclysm, although not immediately due to poor thermal conductivity of (usual) stars.

Why this appears to never happen to main-sequence stars? The answer is simple: because there is no natural cause to ignite 4He prematurely, i.e. before an orderly transition to the red giant stage. If the mad scientist possess some energy beam weapon able to penetrate the Sun down to the core and concentrate its energy output in a small volume, then there is plausible that helium flash can be initiated.

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  • $\begingroup$ So you're going to turn the Sun into an AGB star . . . how, exactly? At this point, the Sun is nearly ready to become a white dwarf; You might as well say, 'Age the Sun 5 billion years'. The first sentence is also a little inflammatory. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Dec 13 '14 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ @HDE 226868 Ī repeat: no natural cause is envisaged to ignite ⁴He in a main-sequence star before its orderly aging because a high temperature required. But we can’t discount unnatural causes considering mad scientists (Ī repeat yet another time: it would be, possibly, an unseen phenomenon). Ignition of ⁴He must be the primary concern of Earth’s contingency planners, not disruption of the photosphere by bulk thermal energy, Alcubierre bubbles, fine structure constant, black holes (have we to attack Sun with a black hole to destroy Earth?), and similar very abundant in this thread. $\endgroup$ – Incnis Mrsi Dec 14 '14 at 8:26
  • $\begingroup$ @HDE 226868 not to create impression Ī dodge a direct question. Under sufficient pressure (the same order as near the centre of the Sun) a thermal runaway of triple ⁴He fusion is possible. Ī didn’t make estimates whether Sun’s pressure is actually sufficient, but these boys and girls upvoting, wrt this science-based question, various Wikipedia-mining “experts” lacking any actual exposure to science are nobody for me to spend my time for the sake of their curiosity. $\endgroup$ – Incnis Mrsi Dec 14 '14 at 10:30
  • $\begingroup$ Are you asserting that if helium flash could be initiated by dumping energy in some small volume of the Sun's core, then it would run away through the whole star (or at least the whole core)? Or are you not asserting that, only asserting that if the whole Sun could somehow be brought to helium flash conditions, then it would go boom. $\endgroup$ – Steve Jessop Dec 18 '14 at 13:02
  • $\begingroup$ The first sentence may indeed be seen as unnecessarily inflammatory, and may affect peoples' interpretation and judgement of your answer. One of the golden rules on Stack Exchange is be nice. Please keep that in mind throughout the site, so that we moderators do not need to outright step in. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 18 '14 at 14:48

protected by HDE 226868 Dec 13 '14 at 20:03

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