Is it possible to stand still in space?

I am wondering to know if it's possible to stand still (no movement at all with respect to the Sun) in space.

Can it be possible? I am thinking that when we move upwards from Earth's surface an upward thrust is needed. When we reach space, if we apply an equivalent opposite force, then can velocity go to zero and hence stand still in space?

• With continuous thrust, yes, you can remain in one position relative to a body such as the sun, but then, for 0 continuous thrust you can be in orbit about it at the same/similar distance. Is there any advantage to remaining suspended in one place (that's worth the thrust)? Sep 2 '14 at 4:23
• @AndrewThompson you said continous thrust so do you mean oppsotite thrust? Sep 2 '14 at 4:53
• If you sent an object on a parabolic orbit out of the solar system, your velocity wrt sun would get closer and closer to zero. At 1 light year out you'd be moving .17 km/s. 2 light years out you'd be moving .12 km/s. Further and you'd likely fall into the influence of another star and start moving faster wrt our sun. Sep 2 '14 at 5:06
• The sun's gravity is always bending your path. Unless you're moving straight from the sun along a radial vector. In which case your path would be a degenerate conic section. Sep 2 '14 at 13:52
• Since Earth moves at about 30km/s around the Sun, before you "stop" you'd need to brake first - accelerate by that 30km/s in direction opposite from Earth's velocity, to "stop". Then you could turn towards the Sun and thrust (very lightly actually, a mere 0.0059 m/s²). The latter is not a big problem; ion drives can provide that for months if not years. The former... I'm not sure if there is a single craft which has ever achieved that delta-V.
– SF.
Jan 23 '17 at 14:36

Yes, it is possible to be essentially standing still in relationship to the Sun. There are many comments and an answer telling you why you can't and, as far as they go, they are correct.

If you move far enough away from our sun, it become just another star. If you move to about half way between Earth and Andromeda, each galaxy will be so far away from you that no individual sun will have any reasonable impact on your position in space.

There are, of course, many things to consider, the spinning of the Sun, the Sun's orbit around the Milky Way, the movement of all the galaxies in the Universe.

If you travel about 1.25 million light years towards Andromeda, and kill your relative speed, you could stand essentially still in regards to our sun.

• This should not be the accepted answer, since it is wrong. May 23 '20 at 20:27
• @Innovine I don't think I'd say this answer is wrong. Of course you can put yourself in a reference frame where the sun's center of mass is stationary. If timescale you're interested in is much shorter than the sun's period to orbit the galaxy (230 million years) and you are far from any large objects, you can stay moving with the sun on a human timescale. Being perfectly "stationary" is not physically feasible and we can only ever say "effectively stationary on some timescale". Nov 8 '20 at 17:11

In the way you defined it, no motion relative to the sun, it is not possible to stand still, because the sun itself is not a solid object. Instead different latitudes rotate with different velocities.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_rotation

You could stand still with regard to the sun's equator by being in a tight orbit around the sun with an orbital period of 24.47 days.

If I understand you correctly, however, you don't want to be in an orbit around the sun. If this is the case, you need to keep firing your engine, so you are not pulled into the sun. As HopDavid correctly pointed out to you, the most plausible concept for this is a Statelite. However, the sun will still be spinning below you, so you are still not fixed in place with regard to most of the sun.

From your question and subsequent replies, I think maybe you may enjoy reading a basic textbook on orbital mechanics. I don't think stackexchange can give you the structured introduction that you need in order to move on in this complicated subject.

• +1 for your last statement on the unstructured nature of Stack Exchange
– Stu
Sep 3 '14 at 4:07

You can't make the velocity zero and expect to stay there. you will need to constantly fire the engine to hold youself in position (this is possible, until you run out of fuel).

Yes, it is possible to fire the engine and lift off earth into space, and then fire in the opposite direction to earths movement until you are still, relative to the sun. But if you now turn the engine off, the suns gravity will pull you down and directly into the sun.

its the earths forward motion that prevents it falling into the sun

It is absolutely possible to be still with respect to the center of the sun. This can be thought of as hovering over the sun at perhaps a very large distance. Thrust is required to avoid falling towards the sun and also being perturbed by other objects.

It is bad to call this "standing still in space", since the center of the sun is an arbitrary reference point that is itself moving around the center of the galaxy.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi's answer used a different interpretation, where you try to simultaneously be in a fixed location with respect to every point in the sun. You can do this (more or less) for the earth with a geostationary orbit. But, as Rikki points out, that is impossible since the sun doesn't rotate as a rigid body.

I would argue that the difference between these two answers is just a matter of interpretation.

There is a great deal of misinformation in the answers here.

To be pedantic, there is no possible way to remain stationary and at rest with respect to the sun. Everything with mass in the universe is exerting a force on you, so truely stationary is never possible.

The next best you can get, is at the core of the sun. If stationary there, you will remain stationary, but this is not a stable state, and the temps and pressures make remaining there quite difficult.

The next best to that is at a very large disance away. The further you go, the less influence the suns gravity will have on your position. If you are ignoring the small influences of everything else in the universe, you would remain stationary wrt. the sun only when the suns influence is ignored bybeing so far away that it also gets ignored. This is now a matter of how accurately you want to measure the problem,or in other words, how much motion you want to ignore. The motion is still technically there.

Within our solar system, and within relatively human timescales, temperatures and pressures, there is no passive way to remain stationary with respect to the sun. Your heliocentric motion will become apparent and measurable.

Of course, if you have fuel and thrusters to overcome this motion, then remaining stationary wrt the sun is possible, as long as your fuel reserves don't run out and your engine remains operational. There is no passive situation where you can come to rest wrt the sun and simply stay like that.

Sure you can.

Step 1: cancel your current orbital velocity relative to the sun. Starting from Earth, a mere 30km or so (on top of the about 11km/s needed to get away from Earth)
Step 2: apply a constant force away from the sun, just enough to counter its gravity.
About 0.00593184 Newton per Kg should do the trick.

You will be stationary relative to the Sun, and stay so as long as your thrust remains active and balanced.

Of course, you will still actually be whizzing around at 240km/s around the galaxy, and the galaxy is whizzing off towards ??? at a speed of ¿¿¿