What Happens To The Heat Energy From The Sun That Does Not Reach The Earth?


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Samuel Chiltern Profile
Samuel Chiltern answered
I should probably explain a basic concept behind the scientific understanding of heat, before I go any further. Heat is technically known as electromagnetic radiation, and is generated by all objects. 

The type and amount of electromagnetic radiation released depends upon the temperature of the object, which - in the case of our Sun - is incredibly hot.

The high temperature of the radiation released by the Sun is why the heat radiation is also visible as light.

The vast majority of the Sun's energy output never reaches the Earth - as only approximately one-billionth of its total output actually makes its way to us. Of that tiny amount, the vast majority is reflected back into space by clouds, or by the Earth itself.

Where Else Does the Heat Energy Go?
Most of the radiation emitted by the Sun shoots off into space. A small amount of it is absorbed by the matter that makes up the various celestial objects in our solar system, such as other planets and asteroids.

Eventually, the energy becomes so dissipated that, from any single vantage point, you can only see a very small amount of it.

This is why only a tiny fraction of the energy emitted by other stars actually reaches us, despite the fact that some of them are larger and brighter than our own Sun. Space is extremely large, and our vantage point is terribly small.

All of the energy that leaves our Sun - and the other stars - becomes a part of what's known as the background radiation constant. This is an average of the amount of background radiation (energy) that the universe holds.

Think of the background radiation constant as the temperature of the universe. Despite the enormous amount of energy produced by all the stars, the universe's temperature is still far below freezing point, because it's so astronomically large!
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Do you mean the 99.3+% of it that spills out into space and does not hit any of the planets or asteroids? Take a look in the night sky. You can see all those "other suns" out there doing the same.

The radiation travels into an expanding universe at the speed of light (or perhaps faster if you are a neutrino "on a mission"). It might hit another star system in a few years time, or fall into a black hole.

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