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We all know that Earth revolves around the Sun due to Gravitational force of the Sun. Also we know that it takes just over 8 minutes for the Sun's light to reach Earth. Now let us say, hypothetically if the sun were to suddenly extinguish (or disappear), would the Earth still not experience any effect of it until just over 8 minutes later (equivalent to time taken by light to reach from Sun to Earth) ? That is, Would the earth still continue to revolve (due to the centripetal force) for next 8 minutes after Sun disappearance and then thrown out of its revolving orbit (due to centrifugal) OR will it be immediately thrown out on the moment the Sun disappeared (i.e., not after 8 minutes) ?

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marked as duplicate by Ben Crowell, John Rennie, Qmechanic Oct 12 '13 at 15:08

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  • $\begingroup$ Related: physics.stackexchange.com/q/5456 $\endgroup$ – jinawee Oct 11 '13 at 23:12
  • $\begingroup$ No not "due to Gravitational force of the Sun" but because of the gravitational force between the Sun and the Earth. $\endgroup$ – hpekristiansen Oct 12 '13 at 0:01
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    $\begingroup$ Now let us say, hypothetically if the sun were to suddenly extinguish (or disappear), This would be inconsistent with general relativity, which requires local conservation of mass-energy. You can move the sun away very quickly, but you can't just make it disappear. $\endgroup$ – Ben Crowell Oct 12 '13 at 2:02
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The answer to this question is not resolved yet. Well, Newton's said that the response is instantaneous, and we know enough now to state that that's wrong.

According to Einstein's General/Special relativity, the fastest speed is the speed of light, so the speed of light is the speed of whatever holds the sun and earth together.

String Theory predicts bosons called "Gravitons" that move in the speed of light, and which do the gravitation. Gravitons are not detected experimentally.

So I guess there's no answer to this question now, though the classical General Relativity (no Quantum Effects) takes it as the speed of light. So yes, with general relativity, it'll take around 8 minutes.

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  • $\begingroup$ Gravitons are considered as gravitational force carriers with zero mass. How is that possible ? Even as small as quarks or mesons which are force carriers in strong nuclear forces do possess atleast the tiniest/slightest of mass. And the theory says graviton doesnot have mass ? Although some one could make contradictory point saying that if graviton would have had some mass, it means then an object with more mass is continuously losing some mass whilst other object experiencing gravity is continuously gaining mass -> this means our mass should increase every second and so do our weight ! $\endgroup$ – Dhwanit Oct 11 '13 at 23:08
  • $\begingroup$ Quarks and mesons are not the force carriers. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Model#Gauge_bosons $\endgroup$ – hpekristiansen Oct 12 '13 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ The answer to this question is not resolved yet. Not true. The issue is well understood and has been tested empirically, as discussed in the answers to the question that this one duplicates. $\endgroup$ – Ben Crowell Oct 12 '13 at 1:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Dhwanit photons also have no mass, but this doesn't surprise anyone. $\endgroup$ – Ruslan Oct 12 '13 at 8:26

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