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Would a container in space maintain its temperature? Answered

It space where there are no particles in the air (metaphorically), would a container maintain its heat.  A vacuum doesn't conduct and in theory that would remove any chance of something losing its heat energy.  And if so would the earth lose all of its heat in the even't of the sun going away.  Or would it average out all of the temperatures, which would still be very cold and would leave the earth feeling about 0 degrees Celsius.  But in theory this would allow us to use some vast heating operation to raise the temperature of a planet and maintain it for us to live on.  I know that there are some things on earth that use the heat and convert its energy to other forms therefore heat is removed from within earth, but could those be eliminated?  This is all just food for thought for people and I kinda wondered what people would say.  Its all in all just fun to learn new things.


Object free-floating in space would both lose and gain heat by radiation.

In shade, such objects can cool dramatically, and heat just as dramatically in direct sunlight (the Moon's surface can dip as low as -233°C at night,and rise as high as 123°C in daylight).

If the Earth suddenly lost the Sun's light and heat, it would cool as much as the Moon, but more slowly because of the atmosphere's insulation, and also because of the planet's internal store of heat.

The loss of the Sun's energy would prove fatal to life as we know it - what doesn't freeze to death (and we're looking, eventually, at temperatures low enough to freeze the atmosphere) will die from lack of oxygen because there is no light for plants to utilise for photosynthesis.

Probably the last complex life to expire would be deep-sea organisms living off the heat and chemical energy of black smokers.

Bacteria might last longer, and could easily end up in what SF fans would term "cryostasis", warming up slightly whenever the Earth drifted closer to another star, or was struck by a meteorite (and such collisions could also seed Earth life across the stars, which would mean nothing to us, since we'd have been dead for millennia, but is still pretty cool).


6 years ago

Heat can transfer  three ways that I know of, Conduction like burning your hand on a fire poker, Convection like a hot air duct and  Radiation like
feeling the Sun on your face.
The planet earth is still generating extra internal heat from radio-active
elements in the core, I understand.  Plus the earth is absorbing radiation
from the sun during the day and night,  all this is balanced by the heat
this planet looses to space by radiation. 
You can understand why certain people are worried that this balance is
being changed by pumping carbon dioxide into our air.


Thanks for your input it always amazes me how much I learn when asking these questions.


6 years ago

Any kind of container in space with no internal heat source would eventually become as "cold" as the surrounding space. Its the second law of thermodynamics. Heat always moves from higher to colder until it equals out and there is no difference between them. Heat is radiated away as infrared so even in a vacuum it would still get cold. This has been shown to be true by observation of the various spacecraft that have been launched over the years.

The planet earth has its own internal heat source. It is believed to be from fission of uranium in the core. so even if totally by itself the interior would continue to generate heat. However the outer crust would get very cold, again as evidenced by the temperatures of the other planets that are distant from the sun. Jupiter generates a large amount of heat and it has been called by some to be a failed brown dwarf star. If its mass were a little larger it might actually be able to ignite and become a small star in which case this would have been a binary system.

0' Celsius is a long way from the coldest in the universe. The scale that is used for those measurements is Kelvin. 0 on the Kelvin scale is also called absolute zero and nothing can reach absolute zero although they have come to withing a few fractions of a degree of it.

Thanks, this is kind of what I needed, I figured that there was something that would cause a loss of energy I just couldn't think of it. Infrared cued me in though. I love things like this because I actually learned a lot from this simple question including that the earth has its own internal heat source. :)
Also, by 0° Celsius I was meaning 32° Fahrenheit or 273° Kelvin, just about freezing is my guess of where the averaged out temperatures of earth would sit at.

the alt code for ° is 0176