Many of you probably know that it takes light from the Sun a little over 8 minutes to reach Earth, so it would take us all at least that long to realize our parent star had vanished. But what would happen after that?
In the latest episode of VSauce, Michael Stevens runs us through this mind-bending thought experiment with his typical blend of lucidity and wit, going way deeper than most of us probably ever got discussing this very topic over beers (and other substances) with our college roommates. For instance, the Sun's gravitational influence on Earth would also take a little over eitght minutes to disappear.When it did, Earth would fly off on a path tangential to its orbit at the instant the Sun lost hold of its gravitational grip on Earth.
Other planets more distant from the Sun than Earth, however, would continue reflecting light and orbiting as though the Sun was still there. Jupiter, for instance, would take around 30 minutes to get the memo. Once it did, we wouldn't be able to see it go dark for another 30 to 60 minutes, depending on where it was in its orbit.
Once all the planets in our solar system went dark, Earth would be left to rely on the light provided by the Universe. According to research published in 2004, that adds up to around 1/300th the light offered by a full Moon. Earth could probably get by for at least a little while – but without light, photosynthesis would grind to a near-complete halt.
And that's just the beginning. We'll let VSauce take it from here. This video's a little long for the typical Internet-dweller's attention span, but trust us, it's worth the watch.