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Thread: Exploding planet

  1. #1 Exploding planet 
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    [This is more a "could this ever possibly happen" question]

    In Greek Mythology there was a story of how a planet exploded in space.

    If there was another planet in the solar system before life on Earth came to be, or certainly before anything linked to human, could it be possible that it exploded and the force of the explosion caused some of the larger pieces to fly out of the orbit of the Sun and be left floating through the universe?

    Secondly, could it be possible that if one of the pieces of debris could eventually float into the orbit of another Sun and maybe even start to inhabit life on it?


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  3. #2  
    Forum Junior Zitterbewegung's Avatar
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    Explosion?? From Internal forces? Most likely not. But an impact event like the formation of the moon, or the formation of the northern hemisphere lowland planes on Mars or other major impact events on Mercury or some Jupiter moons would have the energy to send chunks of a planet out of the solar system. Would any traces of life or proto-life survive such an event? At temperatures generated by the impact of above 1000°C? And at pressures similar to the earth's core? Hmmmmmmmm............
    Just have a little chat with Ophiolite our resident panspermia-proponent :wink:


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  4. #3 Re: Exploding planet 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arrakna
    If there was another planet in the solar system before life on Earth came to be, or certainly before anything linked to human, could it be possible that it exploded and the force of the explosion caused some of the larger pieces to fly out of the orbit of the Sun and be left floating through the universe?
    Not only possible, but it almost certainly happened, though not quite in the way you think of it.

    First, the explosion: planets do not spontaneously explode, so that did not happen, will not happen, could not happen. But planets can be destroyed by collision. In the early solar system there were twenty or more bodies the size of Mars orbiting around, colliding, fragmenting and reforming. The moon is thought to have formed when a Mars sized planetesimal collided with the proto-Earth. Eventually things settled down to the present sate of affairs with four terrestrial planets and an asteroid belt. Certainly some of the fragments were ejected by the force of collisions and by the influence of Jupiter's gravity. Some would have wound up in the Kuiper belt, but some were likely expelled completely fom the system.

    It is unlikely, however, that any of these were as large as a planet capable of generating and sustaining life.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zitterbewegung
    Just have a little chat with Ophiolite our resident panspermia-proponent :wink:
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  6. #5  
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    When we think of exploding planets we naturally imagine big hunks of rock. Nasty things but not absolutely inhospitable. Maybe some primitive life could survive the catastrophic loss of atmosphere right?

    I don't think so.

    The terrestrial planets aren't solid rock that cleave into hunks and shards when whacked. They're more like balls of liquid, with shells. So imagine conking two raw eggs together, aboard a space station. You get gloop, and splurp, and wibble wibble. A terrestrial planet's crust would shimmer into hundreds of melting, capsizing islands, on a global sea of turbulent lava. That planet is totally back to square one.
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    @Ophiolite

    Just teasiiing

    Have you seen the simulation of the Mars-impact on the NS-website? Amazing....
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    When we think of exploding planets we naturally imagine big hunks of rock. Nasty things but not absolutely inhospitable. Maybe some primitive life could survive the catastrophic loss of atmosphere right?

    I don't think so.

    The terrestrial planets aren't solid rock that cleave into hunks and shards when whacked. They're more like balls of liquid, with shells. So imagine conking two raw eggs together, aboard a space station. You get gloop, and splurp, and wibble wibble. A terrestrial planet's crust would shimmer into hundreds of melting, capsizing islands, on a global sea of turbulent lava. That planet is totally back to square one.

    I agree with you.
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  9. #8  
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    It would have to be a small planet with a very low density. To actually cause an explosion large enough though, it would need to be composed of an extremely volatile material, like nitroglycerin that suddenly reached a critical temperature and detonated. The chances of all the components containing the ideal values to do this are very low though, low enough that it has likely never happened.
    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

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    Another thing that could (and probably did) have happened was that a body migrated to the vicinity of a larger one and then broke up due to tidal forces. Some of the left-over parts could then have been ejected or could have collided with other bodies.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Another thing that could (and probably did) have happened was that a body migrated to the vicinity of a larger one and then broke up due to tidal forces. Some of the left-over parts could then have been ejected or could have collided with other bodies.
    If we think of planets being viscous & amorphous (especially early planets somewhat hotter) that seems almost inevitable, because the planet would stretch and break in two. The cast off portion would soon settle into spherical form if it were large enough or hot enough.

    But what happens to the solid core? Does it melt from decompression during tidal ripping? Or pass one way or the other?

    In the latter case you get a sort of refining process.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Another thing that could (and probably did) have happened was that a body migrated to the vicinity of a larger one and then broke up due to tidal forces. Some of the left-over parts could then have been ejected or could have collided with other bodies.
    For abody to break up by tidal force you need an extremely strong gravitational tug, so this means a large celestial body causing another to break up in it's vincinity. Given this prerequisities I highly doubt that any of the leftover debris will escape this field. Just take a look at the ringe gas-giants, nay?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zitterbewegung
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Another thing that could (and probably did) have happened was that a body migrated to the vicinity of a larger one and then broke up due to tidal forces. Some of the left-over parts could then have been ejected or could have collided with other bodies.
    For abody to break up by tidal force you need an extremely strong gravitational tug, so this means a large celestial body causing another to break up in it's vincinity. Given this prerequisities I highly doubt that any of the leftover debris will escape this field. Just take a look at the ringe gas-giants, nay?
    Aye, but if one of the smallish pieces were then to drift (due to the angular momentum of the original body) in a path that would accelerate it (like gravity assist) out of the solar system, would that not be possible? The asteroid belt and the planetary rings are examples of debris that did not end up gravitationally bound and IMO can hardy act as evidence of the non-existence of the alternative, no?
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Aye, but if one of the smallish pieces were then to drift (due to the angular momentum of the original body) in a path that would accelerate it (like gravity assist) out of the solar system, would that not be possible? The asteroid belt and the planetary rings are examples of debris that did not end up gravitationally bound and IMO can hardy act as evidence of the non-existence of the alternative, no?
    I'm not an expert in astronomy but I doubt that substantial amounts of the asteroid belt got ejected from the solar system given the escape velocity for the solar system is around 29 km/s. As for the gravity assisted acceleration......the conditions for this to happen are in my oppinion so special that the chance for this happening by coincidence is close to zero. And to my knowledge the belts of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus are gobbled up by the planets themselves rather than getting shot in any other direction.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zitterbewegung
    [...but I doubt that substantial amounts of the asteroid belt got ejected from the solar system given the escape velocity for the solar system is around 29 km/s. ...
    A substantial amount of material was ejected from the inner solar system into the outer solar system - Kuiper belt and Oort Cloud. I grant you this is not the same thing as being completely ejected, but I would be amazed to learn that some bodies had not been ejected completely. Some of the comets that approach the sun do so on a trajectory that suggests they might be from interstellar space. i.e. they could have come from another star system.
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  16. #15  
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    A substantial amount of material was ejected from the inner solar system into the outer solar system - Kuiper belt and Oort Cloud.
    O.K., but are those bodies leftovers from a palnet that got torn apart by tidal forces. I do not doubt that collisions in the Oorth coud can change the trajectories of smaller chunks of rock (hey Newton still got his stuff right, you know) but the OP was something along the lines "could those chunks have transported forms of life into another system?"
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zitterbewegung
    O.K., but are those bodies leftovers from a palnet that got torn apart by tidal forces.
    They are either planetesimals that did not accrete to form a planet, or they are the remains of the collision of two planets.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zitterbewegung
    but the OP was something along the lines "could those chunks have transported forms of life into another system?"
    The opening post was specifically about life developing on a body after it was ejected from the solar system.
    "could it be possible that if one of the pieces of debris could eventually float into the orbit of another Sun and maybe even start to inhabit life on it?"
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by Zitterbewegung
    O.K., but are those bodies leftovers from a palnet that got torn apart by tidal forces.
    They are either planetesimals that did not accrete to form a planet, or they are the remains of the collision of two planets.
    The latter should be easy to test, if large bodies are assumed molten and plastic. Such bodies wouldn't shatter into odd fragments like hard cracked rock. They would absorb impacts or release discrete portions predictable by the collision (think of lava lamps), and/or spray particles of similar sizes (think of torpedo explosion). In either case viscous debris must quickly resolve into spheres. Then we ask if a few billion years of cooling and knocking around could yield the current forms.
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