What if our Solar System was different? Earth & Sun Reimagined

An exoplanet seen from its moon (artist's impression)

An exoplanet seen from its moon (artist’s impression). Imagine if this was Earth. Image credit: IAU.

Have you ever wondered what our solar system would look if creation took a different direction? How your morning sunrises would look like? How life would differ on Earth? Would you still love summer? Or would you cower in your home to escape the blistering heat and white light that Sirius B or the much larger Sirius A would bestow on our atmosphere?

I guess many of us are passionate about space and about science fiction in general. Science is such an amazing field and it often sparkles genius contraptions that become reality. Imagine you’re at the turn of the century, 1900s, and someone shows you an iPhone. Or tells you that in 50 years, in your lifespan, humankind will land on the Moon.

Twilight Zone. THE Sci-Fi show in the 50s and 60s.

Twilight Zone. THE Sci-Fi show in the 50s and 60s. You can still find many episodes on YT.

And let’s not even delve into the 1950s science shows like Tales of Tomorrow and Twilight Zone, or movies like Just Imagine (1930) which pushed the boundaries of what humans could achieve in regard to fictional stories. Or books. The books, indeed. Just like Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660 by Hugo Gernsback, published in 12 parts in Modern Electrics magazine in 1911 and compiled into a novel/book form in 1925. A science fiction novel in which the main character depicts technological breakthroughs  such as television, transcontinental air service, video-phones, solar energy, movies with sound, synthetic milk, artificial cloth and space flight.

By the year 2660, science has transformed and conquered the world, rescuing humanity from itself. Spectacular inventions from the farthest reaches of space and deep beneath the earth are available to meet every need, providing antidotes to individual troubles and social ills. Inventors are highly prized and respected, and they are jealously protected and lavishly cared for by world governments.

PS: If you are a Sci-Fi fan, really do take the above lecture/links as highly recommended. If you are of a younger age and haven’t had the chance to read/watch any of them, this might only spark a smile across your face, since you are watching them in 2015, probably 70 to 100 years later, after they were wrote.

Jupiter as Earth's Moon

Digital Illustration of Jupiter as Earth’s Moon. Image from Nick’s video over at Yeti Dynamics’s (YT video). Follow him on Twitter.

And yes, you got it. Most of the above predictions became true. Just like faster-than-light speed and interstellar space travel, even though with present laws of physics and current technology barriers, it is less theoretically possible (despite theories) and more Star Trek possible.

Humanity desires fiction. It is hungry for out-of-this-world information and stories. We are curious by nature and always seek out questions to the unknown fabric of time and space.

To continue the exploration of our imagination, let’s move to the Russian Space Agency (commonly called Roscosmos) which just probably upped the ante for NASA (as far as theoretical/art content is released), by sharing two beautifully crafted videos with just how alien Earth would look like with different Suns or different planets instead of our Moon. Fullscreen experience is recommended:

It’s just crazy to imagine an Earth where conditions are so much different than what they are now. And taking other factors into the equation, like how the tides will be with a much greater gravitational pull if our Moon were Pluto, for example, it’s all just a lot to sink in. Such an amazing artwork.

View from Earth - Planets in our Solar System

View from Earth: Plants in our Solar System instead of our Moon. Image is an excerpt of the video above.

But then again, as well know it, there are very few planets that can sustain life (Kepler series of planets) as we know it and as it is currently defined by the laws that govern our physics and biology, compared to the vastness of trillions and trillions of space bodies present in the observable Universe.

Earth is not too far away, but not too close to our Sun. It’s exactly in the spot defined as the Habitable zone. Where liquid water can exist.

So what if other celestial bodies were to take the place of our Sun ?

What would happen to life on Earth? Would we be scorched to death? Or would the rays of the new Sun not warm the Earth enough, that we would be forever in a Glacial period making human life impossible on our planet?

That’s why the Kepler series of planets are found based on algorithm that takes our Sun into account as well. The Habitable Zone wouldn’t be that much habitable if the Sun would be 4 times our own, and the Earth would maintain it’s distance from it as it currently is (149,600,000 km). Science, the never-ending well of knowledge.

But let’s not dwell on such empirical thoughts and enjoy the fantastic. Let’s force our mind to role-play and imagine a world where a sunset or sundown wouldn’t be the highlight of our days. Fullscreen experience is recommended:

Let’s explore Arcturus a bit, a red giant Star and the brightest Star in the Northern Celestial Hemisphere. Arcturus is moving at a tremendous rate of speed (122 km/s) relative to our solar system. It is roughly 25 times greater in diameter than our sun but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is 25 times hotter or 25 times brighter.

Because of its larger size, in visible light Arcturus radiates more than 100 times the light of our sun. If you consider infrared and other forms of radiant energy, Arcturus is about 200 times more powerful than the sun. And yet, the reddish or orange colour of Arcturus signifies its temperature, which is about 7,300 degrees Fahrenheit (about 4,030 degrees Celsius). That makes it several thousand degrees cooler than the surface of the Sun (our Sun has a surface temperature of 9,941 degrees Fahrenheit / 5,505 degrees Celsius).

So we’ll probably be a lot colder during the summer days, if this red giant would be hovering above our planet:

Arcturus, a red giant Star and the brightest Star in the Northern Celestial Hemisphere

Arcturus, a red giant Star, towering over Earth. Image is an excerpt of the video above.

And we will end this mesmerizing adventure with NASA’s Sun-Watching Probe Celebrating 5 Years in Space. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory acquired 200 million+ images in its past 1,826 days looking at the Sun. Goddard Space Flight Center pulled together these highlights for pure visual enjoyment in addition to cool science. A tribute to our own Sun: