will the sun explode and kill us all

I love listening to The Naked Scientists at work. Mind you, they are going on vacation until September, but their archive is fully available and downloadable to listen to. I absolutely adore it and it keeps me going often at work.

On the question and answer show from August 6th there was a fantastic question and answer moment:

Question: My question is, if you have a star, say like the sun, which is approximately 860,000 miles across, and it explodes like a supernova, would the matter coming from it travel faster than the speed of light?

Answer: Well, first thing is to reassure everyone at home that the sun is actually probably too small to turn into a supernova and explode, it’s more likely to turn into a red giant and sort of fluff up about the size of a, which will kill us all anyway, but slightly less violently. But fundamentally no, nothing can go faster than the speed of light. In a supernova things would get very very close and be incredibly energetic.

There you go folks. My fears are assuaged. If the sun dies on us we will all die slightly less violently than if it exploded. Now I can sleep calmly at night. I’m off, snickering, to return to my tiny benthic bivalves (for now, Thyasira brevis).

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