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For a civilization developed and still confined on the surface of the Sun, is it possible to observe and study the universe or even the rest of the solar system?

Obviously, the life form on the Sun is very different from us, and they could have developed an array of super sensory organs or instruments for their advantage. But being on a star bright, hot and full of radiation, I'm not sure how could they even see the Earth.

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  • $\begingroup$ Just checking: do you believe that the Sun has a solid or liquid surface, or a "surface" of any kind, as in a sharp separation between the inside and the outside? $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 2 '17 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ By "surface" I mean the photosphere, so that's nothing to block the view when they look up. $\endgroup$ – A.Z. Aug 2 '17 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ Was this by any chance prompted by reading David Brin's Sundiver? $\endgroup$ – Ash Aug 3 '17 at 16:01
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Suppose I am in the business of abducting people, sitting them in a chair and asking them questions with a bright light shining in their faces. They can see only the light. If it is bright enough, even if I am standing directly between them and the light, they see me only as a silhouette against the light.

For me it is different. I have my back to the bright light. I see my captives in the chair perfectly because the light is not in my eyes; it is behind me. I am very svelte so I do not cast much of a shadow. My bum becomes pleasantly warm.

Your sun folks have most of the brightness of the sun at their backs, I assume. They do not need to look at it. Certainly they do not need to point telescopes at it. From their perspective the universe is a well lit place.

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  • $\begingroup$ I imagine dimmer things might get washed out by the corona, sorta like trying to stargaze in a modern city. I'm not sure how sever it would be, though. $\endgroup$ – MozerShmozer Aug 2 '17 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ Well, we know that it's difficult to look at stars from a bright city, but it's my understanding that is due to the reflected light from our atmosphere. Now, not certain about the Sun, but if there was nothing to reflect it back at us, Will's answer should hold... $\endgroup$ – Pyrotrain Aug 3 '17 at 4:02
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No, but...

They would be living in an environment of intense radiation, electromagnetism and plasma. It is a constantly bubbling, shifting environment that occasionally explodes. Out side of the photosphere is the corona which is an aura of hot plasma surrounding the sun.

The closest analogy would be if fish living in a boiling ocean covered in clouds of steam could see the moon.

My first reaction would be no because of everything flying away from them. Then I thought about it and realized that any technology they developed would be based on radiating energy at something to see it.

They live in a world that touches everything in radiation and plasma. They may very well use that to detect what it brushes up against. Almost like their entire world is sending out a sonar ping they can watch. Of course that ping is made up of radiation and plasma but it has the same effect. So they should be able to see the planets in the solar system and maybe if they are advanced enough pick up the radiation of the bigger planets like Jupiter and Saturn. They may not see the rest of the stars though since the sun's magnetic field would most likely overwhelm any incoming radiation.

They may assume any world that doesn't radiate doesn't have life.

This could be a problem if they feel they have to radiate at everything to see it. They could cook the first humans they come along when they try to look a them with plasma and radiation "pings".

This question reminds me of "sundiver" by David Brin where a science team is sent to the sun to investigate "ghosts" living in the sun's photosphere.

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It would be very likely that any being living on a star would not be able to see light at all simply because it gives them no evolutionary advantage to see light when their entire world is too bright for them to visibly distinguish anything.

If they become an advanced civilization, they will likely build photon detectors that can isolate light that doesn't come from the sun and translate the data into something they can process.

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Jupiter makes tides in the sun. So they would be expected to know something is out here.

Our sun is only a moderate source of radio frequency EM so in the last 100 years we've been making signals that might get to them if they listen for them.

They have a great big fusion power plant so they might be able divert energy to launch probes away from the interference to get a better view if they are interested.

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Assuming you mean the Photosphere, the "visible surface" we see from Earth it really depend on how opaque the Corona is from the underside. The Corona appears wispy and transparent when seen from Earth, if it's the same when seen from the outer edge of the Photosphere then visible spectrum astronomy wouldn't be impossible but they'll think there's a lot less other stars in the universe than we do because the Corona does emit visible light of its own. What they won't have is Infrared or Ultra-violet Astronomy because the Corona is hotter than the Photosphere and produces more of the sun's UV. I'm not sure about Radio, Microwave and X-Ray astronomy though, I think X-Ray could be quite a powerful tool for them, but I have a feeling that Hydrogen absorbs a lot of Radio/Microwave frequencies. The thing that worries me about the whole scenario is that they're working in an extremely violence environment given to rapid upheavals actually bringing sufficient instrumentation to bear on the issue could be extremely difficult or even impossible, assuming they have the instruments Visible and X-Ray astronomy are the areas that they'll find easiest, possibly Radio and Microwave will be useful also.

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