Can a planet suddenly explode?

  1. Like can whatever is happening inside,

    tsunamis, earthquake, volcanic explosion, hurricanes, the sky ripping apart, or just any natural disasters that all happen at the same thing and the planet cannot contain the chaos and explode?

    I mean stars can, why can't planets?
  2. jcsd
  3. If all these natual disasters happend at the same time? Uhh I still don't think it would be enough to demolish the planet. The planet has to be hit by something roughly it's size for it to actually crack..apart from that gravity keeps it together. ( I can't explain it much more )

    Why stars explode.
    Helium and hydrogen constantly fusing making heavier elements such as iron in the innercore of the star, makes it to heavy for it's own good and collapses under it's own weight which causes it to explode..known as a supernova, If the star is atleast 100x as big as our sun. Then it as known as a hypernova, these are thought to be the birth of a black hole. These still explode once they collapse, however the gas and elements forced out from the hypernova is pulled back in towards a colossal black hole.

    I apologize if this is a little bit off the topic, however I will post a link to where I found this infomation when I get home.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2011
  4. davenn

    davenn 4,354
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    2014 Award

    Because the processes going on inside stars is very different to the processes going on inside the Earth / pther planets. As hinted at by the previous poster.

    do some reading on stars and also on the earth / geology etc :)

  5. I know from welding that when a molten ball of steel mixes with enough zinc and possibly oxygen, it's typically shielded with 99% Argon but cover is not usually perfect, the molten ball can suddenly explode quite violently.

    Is it possible for a planet with a molten iron core to be impacted with a large heavily zinc body that gradually melts into the core, becoming unstable and exploding this way?
  6. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    I don't think there would be nearly enough oxygen to do anything on the scale you are imagining.
  7. davenn

    davenn 4,354
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    plus, as far as I'm aware there has never been any solid zinc objects found, if 200 + years of meteorite collecting is anything to go by. they are all in 3 main classes.... nickel/iron, stony irons or stones, nay a zinc meteorite amongst them :)

  8. Yes, a planet can explode, if it is hit by a massive enough object at a fast enough speed. Like the cometary material that hit Jupiter several years ago? Yikes! Otherwise, a planet is largely stable.

    I have wondered if our sun went supernova (which it won't because it is too lightweight) if it would be enough energy and force to blow a planet apart as they show happening in the movie Star Trek (2009). That was a bit bogus, though, because the supernova was not the planet's primary, so the wavefront of particles would take several years to reach it from an adjacent star system.

    Or if our sun were suddenly gated away and replaced by say Rigel (Beta Orionis). At 57,000 x Sol's intrinsic brightness, could that vaporize (explode) our planet? I wonder. That would yield more than a blistering sunburn.

    Rod Martin, Jr.
    3D astronomy space software
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011
  9. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    I don't really think that's the meaning of "explode". Especially considering the OP's question about an internal chemical reaction blowing the planet apart.
  10. arivero

    arivero 3,074
    Gold Member

    So the question is how much energy has the planet -say, Earth- stored, either mechanical (rotational), chemical or even just thermical.
  11. Correct. We can make a few estimates based on the way the core is compacted and from solving the Lane-Embden equation for a n=1.0 polytrope, which is roughly correct for most planets and has a really easy solution for its gravitational binding energy. A useful discussion of the basic maths of polytropes can be found here... Polytropes

    There's not enough stored up in chemical bonds to unbind a planet, but the stored energy can become important when two planets get close enough - the abrupt change in the gravity felt by the bodies can cause the stored energy to be released violently and they blow themselves apart. Assuming they aren't already colliding that is :-)
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2011
  12. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    Why would they blow themselves apart?
  13. Okay, dictionary definition -- explode: "Burst or shatter violently and noisily as a result of rapid combustion, decomposition, excessive internal pressure, or other process, typically scattering fragments widely."

    Hmmm! Sounds like it to me. If you shoot a projectile at Earth, say the size of the moon or larger at say 50 miles per second. Yep! I think that'll do some vaporizing of rock and metal. A solid turned into vapor in a confined space is going to act as "excessive internal pressure."

    There are many possible sources for explosion -- chemical, nuclear and with my example from collision. The original question did not say anything about "chemical reaction." In fact, it alluded to stellar nuclear processes, which of course do not occur on Earth, except when humans get pesky with their toys.
  14. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    Again, I do not think the collision of a large object with the Earth really classifies as an explosion. The impact may cause secondary events that do classify as explosions, but that wouldn't be the main source of energy for shattering the Earth. I don't know the term but there's got to be one for a high velocity kinetic impact that causes the target to break apart.
  15. When the planets get close together the gravitational field which keeps them compressed changes and the whole thing could, in theory, explode as the compressed chemical bonds between the atoms/molecules of the planetary cores relax into a new configuration. Simulations which take this effect into account produce some spectacular fragmenting planets.

    Consider the Earth. Its uncompressed density is ~4.18 while its average density is 5.515. Means quite a bit of energy is stored up in the molecular "springs" of the compressed matter. If Earth and Venus had a very close flyby, then they'd both abruptly experience a cancellation of the gravity squeeze in the region of closest approach, causing a massive eruption of rebounding mantle and core material.
  16. Ahh, so a collision can lead to an explosion, after all? Don't defend a poor idea. Simply let it go and move on. Science is all about humility in the search for answers. Arrogance only gets in the way. We all can learn new things.

    Certainly, lower speed collisions can cause shearing and breakage which would not constitute an explosion. But I was talking about volatility in a confined space from the heat generated by great speed. The speed of much smaller meteor impacts still cause some volatility which melts and even vaporizes crustal material.

    Not the main source for shattering the Earth? I can see that such a claim might be accurate, but have you done any studies of this or computer modeling of the forces involved? I haven't, but I'd be interested in seeing such.
  17. Some good ideas for the most part. But I don't think chemical bonds have much to do with the effect you're describing. That sounds more like tidal shearing from one gravitational body entering the Roche's limit of another gravitational body. For instance, the rings of Saturn might be the result of a moon entering the Roche's limit of that beautiful planet. Of course, it could merely mean that the primordial material from the original dust cloud never formed an aggregate body and remained disassociated because it remains within the Roche's limit of Saturn. If it ever started to aggregate, it would be quickly torn apart by those tidal shearing forces.

    Similar tidal shearing forces are at work on Io, Jupiter's innermost Galilean moon, but in Io's case, the moon is not within Jupiter's Roche limit and the gravitational "massage" Io gets is a double whammy from Jupiter and one of Io's sibling moons. That's why Io has the most volcanic complexion in the Solar System. (Does anyone have acne cream for Io?)
  18. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    There is absolutely no reason to be rude. That will get you nowhere here on PF except to a warning/ban. I will gladly concede my argument if someone provides me with good reason to, as I have here myself when looking this up under explosion on wikipedia:

    I still believe this type of explosion was not what the OP had in mind, however I will agree that based on this it looks like it is an explosion.

    In the future I would suggest a little patience when dealing with people. No one here is right every time, and there is no reason to suggest that they are arrogant or anything else.
  19. I'm sure their must be enough energy to turn it all into nuclear weapons, explode them all in the earths core, and blow us to smithereens. I like that word.

    Anyway, I believe a planet can explode if it has humans dedicated fully to building nuclear bombs, then burying at the most effective depth to cause explosion, then detonating.

    Is this a physics answer? I don't know but it shows that life does have some place in the grand scheme of things as we can blow a planet up from within.
  20. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    Lets stay on topic please. This question was about the explosion of a planet by natural means, not manmade.
  21. Manmade would be natural means imo, but i get what your saying.
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