Could a brown dwarf passing through our solar system ignite Jupiter?

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In summary, a brown dwarf system within our solar system could potentially ignite Jupiter. This would most likely result in a catastrophic explosion that would be visible from Earth.
  • #1
Beth Doodle
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First let me make clear that I am not a student in Physics. I have a BA in Anthropology and a BS in Computer Science. My only background in Astronomy and Astrophysics is as a fan. The sort that has watched lots of Discovery Channel-likeTV shows over the years. I'm now 61.

The reason that I joined this forum is to get a question answered.

People here might be aware of the current conspiracy theory running rampant on YouTube of there being a brown dwarf system within our solar system (Niburu/Nemesis/Planet X/etc.). I'm not here to debate on whether or not it exists - I myself am reserving final judgment until we have real, solid evidence - rather than photos of sun dogs, lens flares, and red clouds. (BTW - Even when you give scientific explanations to people that debunk their "evidence" they will still refuse to believe you. I think they prefer the fun of believing in their titillating pet theories more than hearing the truth - after all, the truth spoils all their fun. Sad, but true. I've given up on the "look at my picture of Niburu!" group. Evidence, logic, and reason mean nothing to them.)

I would like a question answered about something that has just come to my attention from what is, to me, the newest bit of this particular conspiracy theory.

I just watched a video where someone conjectured that the Nov. 13th conjunction of Jupiter and Venus would ignite Jupiter. Personally, even as an amateur, I don't see how this could happen if just Jupiter and Venus are involved - they are just too far apart physically and there needs to be something that would trigger an ignition.

So, just for grins, let's think about what might happen if this brown dwarf system actually were within our solar system. Could this possibly be something that could trigger an ignition of Jupiter?

I have seen claims that this red dwarf will impact Jupiter. There are also others that say that it will impact Earth - or at least pass close enough by to have devastating effects.

I just got finished reading a thread from this forum from 2010 titled Possibility of igniting Jupiter where I had hoped to get some insight into my questions. I joined this forum so that I could post my questions there, but it's closed, so I started this thread.

To be clear, I'm not asking about Jupiter becoming a star - just about it igniting.

I learned in that other forum that in order for Jupiter to have a significant ignition that it would require an oxidizer. And in order for that ignition to be of any significance, it would require a very significant oxidizer source.

Would a brown dwarf contain enough of a source of oxidizer to cause a significant combustion event? If so, would a collision be enough to trigger that ignition? What could we expect the resulting explosion to be like? What would it look like from earth? What would the effects be on earth?

When confronting wild theories like these, I like to arm my self with scientific information. I may still fail to make a dent in their beliefs, but I can at least say I tried.
 
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  • #2
Beth Doodle said:
I just watched a video where someone conjectured that the Nov. 13th conjunction of Jupiter and Venus would ignite Jupiter.
This is a measure of how ignorant some people can be. If the person making this conjecture isn't just trolling, he or she must be ignorant of the meaning of the term "conjunction," and that it has everything to do with the two planets having either the same right ascension or the same ecliptic longitude, usually as observed from Earth, but little to do with how close together they are.
 
  • #3
If you mean fusion then no. Jupiter does not have enough pressure to sustain fusion.

If you look up at the sky you might see a meteor. During meteor showers the likelihood is much higher. A meteoriod is often made out of rock. The bright streak is just the energy released by gravity and the collision air molecules. The energy released is much higher than any chemical reaction.

Throwing a one ton tank of oxidizer into a dense hydrogen atmosphere would not look much different from throwing one ton of anything into Jupiter's atmosphere. Oxygen will react with hydrogen eventually which will become water. At extremely high temperature hydrogen and oxygen separate. When shoemaker levy 9 impacted Jupiter the temperature 24,000K (42,700F) was measured. Much hotter than you could possibly achieve with a torch.

Almost all brown dwarfs will be made out of hydrogen same as Jupiter.
 
  • #4
Beth Doodle said:
So, just for grins, let's think about what might happen if this brown dwarf system actually were within our solar system. Could this possibly be something that could trigger an ignition of Jupiter?

No. Jupiter cannot be ignited without changing its makeup so drastically that it would no longer be the same planet. You would either need to increase its mass by about 75x to generate sustained nuclear fusion in its core, or add huge amounts of something like oxygen so that the hydrogen has something to chemically react with. Either way this would not be the same planet.
 
  • #5
She is aware that the two planets are not physically next to each other. Her conclusions have nothing to do with logic - she is just coming to a conclusion because it fits with her beliefs. She's not trolling, she sincerely believes what she is saying.

Do you have any answers to my questions for me?
 
  • #6
Hi Beth

welcome to PF :smile:

Beth Doodle said:
Sad, but true. I've given up on the "look at my picture of Niburu!" group. Evidence, logic, and reason mean nothing to them.)

don't even bother wasting your time ... On PF we don't even allow discussion of conspiracy theories because of that very reason :smile:

Beth Doodle said:
I just watched a video where someone conjectured that the Nov. 13th conjunction of Jupiter and Venus would ignite Jupiter. Personally, even as an amateur, I don't see how this could happen if just Jupiter and Venus are involved - they are just too far apart physically and there needs to be something that would trigger an ignition.

that's right, they are too far apart, As Mark44 said, a conjunction is just that they appear close together from our point of view.
so we will leave that at that :wink:
Beth Doodle said:
To be clear, I'm not asking about Jupiter becoming a star - just about it igniting.

I learned in that other forum that in order for Jupiter to have a significant ignition that it would require an oxidizer. And in order for that ignition to be of any significance, it would require a very significant oxidizer source.

Would a brown dwarf contain enough of a source of oxidizer to cause a significant combustion event? If so, would a collision be enough to trigger that ignition? What could we expect the resulting explosion to be like? What would it look like from earth? What would the effects be on earth?
Well about the largest thing we have seen so far crash into Jupiter was the fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 some years back
The explosions of the largest of the fragments produced multi-megaton sized blasts and yet all that hydrogen and other volatile gas
still didn't ignite notably immediately outside the impact zone.

as far as a brown dwarf goes ... have a read about them here on wiki ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_dwarf
Dave
 
  • #7
Beth Doodle said:
So, just for grins, let's think about what might happen if this brown dwarf system actually were within our solar system. Could this possibly be something that could trigger an ignition of Jupiter?

...

Would a brown dwarf contain enough of a source of oxidizer to cause a significant combustion event?
No, a brown dwarf doesn't contain a relevant amount of an oxidizer -- and think about it: if it did, it would ignite its own hydrogen!
 
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  • #8
stefan r and Drakkith: I am not talking about fusion. I am just talking about an explosion of some sort. It doesn't have to involve the entire planet.

From what people are saying, they expect that there is a significant amount of iron oxide associated with this object. Either from the dwarf star itself, or from the objects orbiting it.

If this is true, it would be a source of an oxidizer - the iron oxide. And I think that there would be lot more involved than a ton or two.

If there is a very high amount of iron oxide associated with this object, would a collision with Jupiter cause an explosion of some sort?

davenn: I
'm not trying to drag any conspiracy theories into this, it's just that a conspiracy theory triggered questions in me. I don't want conspiracy theory answers - I want scientifically based answers.

I have already seen the Wikipedia article article on brown dwarfs, including this accompanying image comparing the sizes of Jupiter and a brown dwarf.

BrownDwarfComparison-pia12462.jpg


It seems to me that a collision of an object of that size with Jupiter is going to be a bit more dramatic than the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 event.

What could we expect the resulting collision be like? What would it look like from earth? What would the effects be on earth?

And, if the dwarf star itself didn't impact Jupiter, but something that was orbiting it did, what would that impart be like? Again, I'm not talking about a comet-sized mass I'm talking about either a planetary body or perhaps a massive cloud of iron oxide-rich debris.

Please understand me - I'm not trying to support a conspiracy theory, I'm trying to DEBUNK it.

All I want is an honest, scientific answer.
 

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  • #9
Beth Doodle said:
I myself am reserving final judgment until we have real, solid evidence
We have real, solid evidence that all these conspiracy theories are nonsense.

A red dwarf is much more massive than Jupiter (it would also appear at least as bright as it - impossible to miss in the sky). It wouldn't be a red dwarf crashing into Jupiter, it would be Jupiter crashing into the red dwarf, probably without a large effect on the red dwarf.

Beth Doodle said:
If there is a very high amount of iron oxide associated with this object, would a collision with Jupiter cause an explosion of some sort?
See above, the energy released in chemical reactions (even if they would happen) would be tiny compared to the gravitational potential energy that gets released in a collision. This also means there cannot be an explosion in the way explosives on Earth work, because that would go against the gravitational attraction. A small amount of material would get ejected, but most would just stay in the now slightly more massive red dwarf.

Ignore this nonsense - it is a waste of time to listen to it.
 
  • #10
Okay then, forget the whole combustion based question.

It doesn't matter if you think this dwarf system is there or not - I am asking a legitimate question.

What would happen if either a dwarf star or something from it's orbit impacted Jupiter?
 
  • #11
Beth Doodle said:
What would happen if either a dwarf star or something from it's orbit impacted Jupiter?

If a brown dwarf (or larger object) got very close to the planet (it doesn't even need to impact it), the planet would be ripped apart into a large cloud of gas and dust from tidal forces.
 
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  • #12
Beth Doodle said:
Okay then, forget the whole combustion based question.

It doesn't matter if you think this dwarf system is there or not - I am asking a legitimate question.

What would happen if either a dwarf star or something from it's orbit impacted Jupiter?

There are computer simulation videos about the collision that formed Earth's moon. Here is one on youtube.

It is worth pointing out that the odds are extremely low. But the odds of a near miss are higher than a contact. A brown dwarf could change the orbit. Jupiter's orbit will change the orbits of all other planets. A brown dwarf would also throw a lot of asteroids into new orbits.
 
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  • #13
Drakkith and stefan r: THANK YOU!

That was all I wanted - answers.

So let me continue then. If this near-miss were to happen and Jupiter were ripped apart, what would it look like to someone here on earth?
 
  • #14
Beth Doodle said:
So let me continue then. If this near-miss were to happen and Jupiter were ripped apart, what would it look like to someone here on earth?

Probably just a bright point of light if the breakup of Jupiter heats up all that gas and dust. Otherwise, it probably wouldn't look like anything unless you had a telescope.
 
  • #15
Drakkith said:
Probably just a bright point of light if the breakup of Jupiter heats up all that gas and dust. Otherwise, it probably wouldn't look like anything unless you had a telescope.
Wow! Really?

The largest planet in our solar system blows up and and it's hardly a blip in the night sky?

How disappointing! I thought that it'd be more spectacular than that. I mean, wouldn't it continue to expand? Wouldn't the sun reflect off all that stuff and make it visible from Earth eventually? Maybe I've watched too many scifi movies, but I was expecting something much more dramatic than something you'd need a telescope to see. I guess I was thinking something more along the lines of when the Klingon moon Praxis blew up. And that was just a moon, not a gas giant!

It seems almost sad that the King of Planets gets demolished and no one would hardly notice.

At least until the other planets in the solar system started to change their orbits. like stefan r said. Stefan also said that the asteroids would also be thrown into new orbits. Can I assume that Earth might then experience a deluge of asteroid impacts?
 
  • #16
Beth Doodle said:
The largest planet in our solar system blows up and and it's hardly a blip in the night sky?

Well, it's not really blowing up. It's just getting torn apart. It might be brighter than I thought, but there won't be any explosion.

Beth Doodle said:
I mean, wouldn't it continue to expand? Wouldn't the sun reflect off all that stuff and make it visible from Earth eventually?

I hadn't thought about that to be honest. Yes, I'd expect something resembling a comet's tail to appear, though I don't know how large it would appear or how bright.

Beth Doodle said:
I guess I was thinking something more along the lines of when the Klingon moon Praxis blew up. And that was just a moon, not a gas giant!

I don't know what the Klingons were using to generate power on that moon, but Jupiter certainly has none of it. :biggrin:

Beth Doodle said:
At least until the other planets in the solar system started to change their orbits. like stefan r said. Stefan also said that the asteroids would also be thrown into new orbits. Can I assume that Earth might then experience a deluge of asteroid impacts?

Unlikely. We might eventually catch a few, but I wouldn't call it a "deluge". It's actually really hard to have collisions between objects in space. The distances between them are so much larger than their sizes that it's very unlikely that a collision will occur.
 
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  • #17
Drakkith said:
Unlikely. We might eventually catch a few, but I wouldn't call it a "deluge". It's actually really hard to have collisions between objects in space. The distances between them are so much larger than their sizes that it's very unlikely that a collision will occur.
But isn't Earth hit multiple times every day? We see shooting stars all the time. We go through meteor showers all the time. We hear of news-worthy impacts multiple times a year. We go though near-misses several times a year. There are a LOT of objects buzzing around out there in in our solar system. I know this from watching non-scifi space TV shows. I know this from keeping an eye on spaceweather.com.

And wouldn't Jupiter being torn apart send debris shooting out in all directions? Wouldn't that push through the asteroid belt, throwing many of them out of their orbit, along the ecliptic plane, and towards earth?

I'm sorry to keep pursuing this, but you seem to be saying that the largest planet in out solar system being torn apart would be pretty much a non-event. I just can't see how that can be true. I don't know the science, but such an event MUST have significant impact on not only earth, but the entire solar system! How can it not?
 
  • #18
Beth Doodle said:
But isn't Earth hit multiple times every day?

By tiny dust grains, sure. That's because there are enormous numbers of them out in space. But the "big" things are far fewer.

Beth Doodle said:
We see shooting stars all the time. We go through meteor showers all the time.

Almost all of these are something around pebble-size or smaller.

Beth Doodle said:
We hear of news-worthy impacts multiple times a year.

Oh? The number of news-worthy impacts I've ever heard about in my life can be counted on one hand. And it technically wasn't an impact since it exploded in the atmosphere.

Beth Doodle said:
We go though near-misses several times a year. There are a LOT of objects buzzing around out there in in our solar system.

Sure, but the near-misses far outnumber the actual impacts of comparably sized objects.

Beth Doodle said:
And wouldn't Jupiter being torn apart send debris shooting out in all directions? Wouldn't that push through the asteroid belt, throwing many of them out of their orbit, along the ecliptic plane, and towards earth?

No, not necessarily. Remember that Jupiter is already moving in its orbit. Most of the gas and dust might continue moving in this orbit with only a small amount of deviation. I haven't done any math so I can't say with any certainty how much would be sent outwards into wildly different orbits. I expect that it depends heavily on the details of the object that Jupiter interacts with.

Beth Doodle said:
I'm sorry to keep pursuing this, but you seem to be saying that the largest planet in out solar system being torn apart would be pretty much a non-event.

Depending on the exact details of what happens, there could be a devastating change in our orbit, or we could see almost no effect in the near to moderate future. Both possibilities exist, as do many others.
 
  • #19
mfb said:
A red dwarf is much more massive than Jupiter (it would also appear at least as bright as it - impossible to miss in the sky).
You are wrong about the appearance of a brown dwarf. Brown dwarfs are very dim and cool compared with stars and they are too cool to radiate visible light. I know that this doesn't make them invisible, no more than any of the planets in our solar system are invisible. They are visible to us because of the reflected light from the sun. But, many brown dwarfs have been discovered embedded in large clouds of gas and dust. This would mean that they would be invisible to the naked eye. Which is exactly why infrared telescopes are used to detect them. Since infrared radiation can penetrate through the dusty regions of space, brown dwarfs can be discovered by infrared telescopes, even deep within thick clouds.

Look people. I came here to ask a legitimate question.

You must have missed the part in my initial post where I said that I spent time debunking supposed evidence of Niburu. You must have also missed the part where I said I was asking these questions "just for grins". In other words, I am asking out of curiosity. I am not promoting the Niburu conspiracy theory, as it seems everyone is assuming.

I thought that I would be talking to people with a scientific background who's education included learning to divorce emotions and personal prejudices from science. But I guess I forgot that scientists are people too, and some people are incapable of separating their emotions and prejudices from anything else in their lives, including supposed scientists.

If you people cannot do this in order to give me the answers I am seeking, then I came to the wrong place to ask a legitimate science question.

And since this forum caters to students, this makes me fear for the future of this world - far more than the possibility of a hypothetical Niburu makes me fear for our future.

I know that Drakkith has been giving me some answers, but I can't help feeling that even he is holding back and editing what info he gives me.

I may not have an astrophysics educational back ground, but something tells me that something with the mass of Jupiter (2.5 times more massive than all of the other planets in our Solar System combined) being torn apart will NOT be a the non-event that Drakkith is saying it would be.

These are not the actions of true scientists. Scientists are supposed to be above such things. They are supposed to be the purveyors of truth. They are not supposed to manipulate and hold back on the truth.
 
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  • #20
Beth Doodle said:
Look people. I came here to ask a legitimate question.
The staff is doing an admirable job of answering your question(s), why would you want to take an argumentative stance and have your thread locked? that seems rather counterproductive. o_O
 
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  • #21
Beth Doodle said:
Look people. I came here to ask a legitimate question.

You must have missed the part in my initial post where I said that I spent time debunking supposed evidence of Niburu. You must have also missed the part where I said I was asking these questions "just for grins". In other words, I am asking out of curiosity. I am not promoting the Niburu conspiracy theory, as it seems everyone is assuming.

I thought that I would be talking to people with a scientific background who's education included learning to divorce emotions and personal prejudices from science. But I guess I forgot that scientists are people too, and some people are incapable of separating their emotions and prejudices from anything else in their lives, including supposed scientists.

If you people cannot do this in order to give me the answers I am seeking, then I came to the wrong place to ask a legitimate science question.
The issue here is that we've been lenient with our rule against crackpot content: we generally don't allow it even for the purpose of debunking. We're discussing how to handle it, but in the meantime you can help by asking more concise/focused questions without all of the crackpot background behind them. It would also help to recognize that some of these crackpot claims you are trying to debunk are practically insane, which makes it hard to give a straight/no frills response. In other words, you are trying to generate "legitimate science questions" and not having much luck. Sometimes you just have to accept that no matter how much lipstick you put on it, we can still see the pig.
 
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  • #22
1oldman2 said:
The staff is doing an admirable job of answering your question(s), why would you want to take an argumentative stance and have your thread locked? that seems rather counterproductive. o_O
I guess because I am feeling frustrated.

I thought that this would be a cut-and-dried answer. When the brown dwarf reached Jupiter, such-and-such will happen. Then, after such-and-such a time, this will happen. To those who are watching from earth, they will see such-and-such in the sky. The long-term effects of this on Earth and the rest of the solar system would be such-and-such.

But what I'm getting, on the whole, is that the destruction of a planet 2.5 times more massive than all of the other planets in our Solar System combined will be a non-event. Nothing will be seen from earth, unless you have telescope. Maybe Earth will experience devastating effects, but probably not.

I don't have the education to know the principles behind the physics of this, but simple common sense tells me that after the largest planer in our solar system is "destroyed", that life on Earth will NOT go on as usual as if this event never happened excepting, perhaps, a few days spent watching the news and everyone tsk-tsking over the sad demise of the King of Planets before we all go back to our Twitter accounts.

It can't be that simple! Can it?

Maybe I'm being too harsh on the people in this forum because they are students, but I thought that at least a few would be upper-classmen that would have a solid enough educational level to figure this out.

It also doesn't help that I also posted this scenario on an astronomy website where I was told that nothing would happen to Jupiter because it was a gas giant so, because it's only made of gas, then it can't be torn apart by a passing dwarf star. Apparently, this person equates gas to nothingness.

I do apologize if I've been too harsh, but I was honestly expecting to be given an answer and wouldn't need to argue over it or keep pushing for an answer that makes sense. There are physical laws that would dictate what would happen. It should be relatively clear what would happen.

If I am wrong, and this will be more of a non-event that I think, then I really, really need someone to explain to me how this can possibly be.
 
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  • #23
Beth Doodle said:
Maybe I'm being too harsh on the people in this forum because they are students,
Um, you are also getting answers from PhDs and working physicists and scientists. Just sayin' :smile:
 
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  • #24
Beth Doodle said:
You are wrong about the appearance of a brown dwarf.

Assuming MFB meant a brown dwarf and not a red dwarf like he said, he's not wrong. Sunlight would reflect off of a brown dwarf and since the brown dwarf is at least as large as Jupiter that means that it would appear roughly as bright as the planet does. Any gas and dust surrounding it would also reflect and scatter light in all directions and would be very easy to observe.

Beth Doodle said:
Look people. I came here to ask a legitimate question.

And we've given you legitimate answers.

Beth Doodle said:
I am not promoting the Niburu conspiracy theory, as it seems everyone is assuming.

No one is assuming that. They're just trying to reassure you (and others who view this thread) that it's bogus.

Beth Doodle said:
I thought that I would be talking to people with a scientific background who's education included learning to divorce emotions and personal prejudices from science. But I guess I forgot that scientists are people too, and some people are incapable of separating their emotions and prejudices from anything else in their lives, including supposed scientists.

Accusations like this are insulting to those who have given you their time and effort in trying to answer your questions. You have read a handful of posts from a few people and somehow concluded all sorts of things from them. Please understand that communication by text is completely devoid of all the verbal and non-verbal cues that indicate someone's attitude and emotions, making it extremely easy to infer the wrong thing from them. Just think of all the misunderstood text messages that get sent. A good rule of thumb when communicating through text is that if you think someone is insulting you, purposely misleading you, or something similar, they probably aren't.

Beth Doodle said:
I know that Drakkith has been giving me some answers, but I can't help feeling that even he is holding back and editing what info he gives me.

I cannot fathom why you would think that. What possible reason would I have in misleading you or holding something back? I assure you that I've given you all the information that I have based on my rather limited knowledge of astrophysics.

Beth Doodle said:
I may not have an astrophysics educational back ground, but something tells me that something with the mass of Jupiter (2.5 times more massive than all of the other planets in our Solar System combined) being torn apart will NOT be a the non-event that Drakkith is saying it would be.

It won't be a non-event. It just may not be the spectacular, devastating event that you're imagining. The Earth will not be under a deluge of asteroids or large meteors, though the rate of impacts, over the next few centuries to few millennia, could increase many times its current amount. Jupiter will not explode like what you see in a sci-fi movie. The tearing apart of the planet may result in a large, hot cloud of gas and dust that glows brightly, which may look rather impressive, but it will not be a large explosion.

The worst thing that could happen, other than a large impact event, would probably come from the change in our orbit that the brown dwarf itself would introduce. As far as I know, you can't have an object several times as massive as Jupiter come flying near the inner solar system without it shaking things up a bit. Even a relatively small change in our orbit could cool or heat our planet to a temperature that would make life difficult for us humans.

Note that I'm just one person on an online forum. You should not take my word as an absolute truth.

Beth Doodle said:
These are not the actions of true scientists. Scientists are supposed to be above such things. They are supposed to be the purveyors of truth. They are not supposed to manipulate and hold back on the truth.

I don't appreciate your accusations and I find them to be a violation of PF rules regarding civility. If you have complaints about any member of PF, including myself or any other member of the staff, you can contact myself or another mentor, or use the "Report" feature to report any post that you feel has violated PF rules. Further accusations or insults will not be tolerated and will result in a warning and your thread may be locked.
 
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  • #25
Beth Doodle said:
I guess because I am feeling frustrated.

I thought that this would be a cut-and-dried answer. When the brown dwarf reached Jupiter, such-and-such will happen. Then, after such-and-such a time, this will happen. To those who are watching from earth, they will see such-and-such in the sky. The long-term effects of this on Earth and the rest of the solar system would be such-and-such.

But what I'm getting, on the whole, is that the destruction of a planet 2.5 times more massive than all of the other planets in our Solar System combined will be a non-event. Nothing will be seen from earth, unless you have telescope. Maybe Earth will experience devastating effects, but probably not.
You added a lot of extra sub-questions to the periphery that have distracted from this core question. The answer is relatively straightforward and can be gleaned from looking into the collision of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter (Google for photos).

The collision was energetic, generating large balls of hot gas that were unfortunately termed "fireballs" (they were not on fire).

A collision between Jupiter and a larger gaseous body would be like that except much bigger. It would be a spectacular sight, lighting-up the daytime sky.

But unless some debris headed for Earth, it would have little lasting effect. Our orbit would wobble a bit less and our tides would smooth a little.

Also, FYI, the asteroid belt is pretty thin and has a small total mass, so a disruption of it wouldn't have much of an effect either.

[Edit] Hmm..., actually, a quick calc tells me the impact would release as much energy as the sun emits in 800 years. That would be enough to cause problems on Earth. Can someone check my math:
Sun output: 3.9x10^26 watts
Jupiter mass: 2x10^27 kg
Assume Jupiter hits it at 100kps.
 
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  • #26
Beth Doodle said:
I thought that this would be a cut-and-dried answer. When the brown dwarf reached Jupiter, such-and-such will happen. Then, after such-and-such a time, this will happen. To those who are watching from earth, they will see such-and-such in the sky. The long-term effects of this on Earth and the rest of the solar system would be such-and-such.

The problem is that there isn't a cut-and-dried answer. The details of what happen depend on the exact conditions of the event. A direct impact of a brown dwarf with Jupiter will be different from a near miss, which will be different from a slightly-less-near miss. The mass of the brown dwarf, its speed, trajectory, and a few other properties will also change things. If the event happened on a Tuesday we could end up with a major impact event on Earth, whereas if it happened a day later we might not even have a near-miss from the asteroid.

Beth Doodle said:
I don't have the education to know the principles behind the physics of this, but simple common sense tells me that after the largest planer in our solar system is "destroyed", that life on Earth will NOT go on as usual as if this event never happened excepting, perhaps, a few days spent watching the news and everyone tsk-tsking over the sad demise of the King of Planets before we all go back to our Twitter accounts.

Common sense starts to fail you when you start talking about uncommon situations that people don't usually experience or talk about. Astrophysics is one of these. Common sense would tell most people that you have to dodge and weave when going through the asteroid belt to avoid hitting an asteroid. But common sense is wrong here, as the average distance between asteroids is miles and miles and miles. You would be hard pressed to even see one as anything more than a small dot in the distance.

Also note that I don't know exactly what you mean by "spectacular" and "non-event". I have to go on my own guess of what you mean based on my understanding of those words and the situation. Would you be able to see it with the naked eye? Almost certainly. Will it look like the special effects from a sci-fi movie? Probably not. At best, a straight up collision would result in a bright source of light in the sky, probably easily outshining the Moon for a short period of time. If that's "spectacular", then I guess it's a spectacular event. A near-miss that tears the planet apart may still shine brightly, but I do not know the exact details of what it would look like.

Beth Doodle said:
It also doesn't help that I also posted this scenario on an astronomy website where I was told that nothing would happen to Jupiter because it was a gas giant so, because it's only made of gas, then it can't be torn apart by a passing dwarf star. Apparently, this person equates gas to nothingness.

I would disagree with that person, but I also haven't done the math to see how close a brown dwarf would need to be to tear Jupiter apart.
 
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  • #27
berkeman said:
Um, you are also getting answers from PhDs and working physicists and scientists. Just sayin' :smile:

I have no way of knowing that. I haven't seen any indicators of the education levels of the members that I'm conversing with.

Drakkith said:
Assuming MFB meant a brown dwarf and not a red dwarf like he said, he's not wrong. Sunlight would reflect off of a brown dwarf and since the brown dwarf is at least as large as Jupiter that means that it would appear roughly as bright as the planet does. Any gas and dust surrounding it would also reflect and scatter light in all directions and would be very easy to observe.

But, what if it were back-lit by the sun? I think that's what the majority of believers seem to be saying. That we can't see it because its, from Earth's perspective, in what would be equivalent to the new moon phase.

Drakkith said:
No one is assuming that. They're just trying to reassure you (and others who view this thread) that it's bogus.

I never said that I was a Niburu believer. The whole idea just sparked curiosity in me. I'm just curious for curiosities sake.

Drakkith said:
Accusations like this are insulting to those who have given you their time and effort in trying to answer your questions. You have read a handful of posts from a few people and somehow concluded all sorts of things from them. Please understand that communication by text is completely devoid of all the verbal and non-verbal cues that indicate someone's attitude and emotions, making it extremely easy to infer the wrong thing from them. Just think of all the misunderstood text messages that get sent. A good rule of thumb when communicating through text is that if you think someone is insulting you, purposely misleading you, or something similar, they probably aren't.

I cannot fathom why you would think that. What possible reason would I have in misleading you or holding something back? I assure you that I've given you all the information that I have based on my rather limited knowledge of astrophysics.

We cross-posted. My explanation of my behavior, and apology, is in the post I just made previously.

Drakkith said:
It won't be a non-event. It just may not be the spectacular, devastating event that you're imagining. The Earth will not be under a deluge of asteroids or large meteors, though the rate of impacts, over the next few centuries to few millennia, could increase many times its current amount. Jupiter will not explode like what you see in a sci-fi movie. The tearing apart of the planet may result in a large, hot cloud of gas and dust that glows brightly, which may look rather impressive, but it will not be a large explosion.

I didn't really expect complete destruction of Jupiter, unless there were massive combustion, but the people here have explained that that won't occur. And even then I didn't expect complete destruction. Even a supernova leaves behind a remnant.

And once I was told that a near-pass would be more likely, I figured that Jupiter wouldn't completely be destroyed, but I did think that since the dwarf star was bigger than Jupiter, that a goodly portion of it would be drawn away. How much would depend on how close the encounter was.

Drakkith said:
The worst thing that could happen, other than a large impact event, would probably come from the change in our orbit that the brown dwarf itself would introduce. As far as I know, you can't have an object several times as massive as Jupiter come flying near the inner solar system without it shaking things up a bit. Even a relatively small change in our orbit could cool or heat our planet to a temperature that would make life difficult for us humans.

Yes. I recall seeing a simulation video a few years back when I first came across this whole Niburu business in which the chosen path of this object was to pass through, but not impact anything in the solar system. It was very striking because it showed one of the planets being thrown completely out of the solar system and the rest of them shifting their orbits. I realize that sort of scenario depends on the path this dwarf star system takes. Maybe that's why I was expecting something more dramatic.

Drakkith said:
Note that I'm just one person on an online forum. You should not take my word as an absolute truth.

I don't appreciate your accusations and I find them to be a violation of PF rules regarding civility. If you have complaints about any member of PF, including myself or any other member of the staff, you can contact myself or another mentor, or use the "Report" feature to report any post that you feel has violated PF rules. Further accusations or insults will not be tolerated and will result in a warning and your thread may be locked.

Again, I explain my behavior, and apologize, in my previous post.
 
  • #28
Beth Doodle said:
I have no way of knowing that. I haven't seen any indicators of the education levels of the members that I'm conversing with.
You can click on their avatars and select their Profile page. Not everybody posts their education level and background, but many folks do. :smile:
 
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  • #29
Beth Doodle said:
You are wrong about the appearance of a brown dwarf. Brown dwarfs are very dim and cool compared with stars and they are too cool to radiate visible light. I know that this doesn't make them invisible, no more than any of the planets in our solar system are invisible. They are visible to us because of the reflected light from the sun. But, many brown dwarfs have been discovered embedded in large clouds of gas and dust. This would mean that they would be invisible to the naked eye. Which is exactly why infrared telescopes are used to detect them. Since infrared radiation can penetrate through the dusty regions of space, brown dwarfs can be discovered by infrared telescopes, even deep within thick clouds.

The visibility of a Brown dwarf depends on its size and age. Only very old ones will have cooled enough to emit no visible light. Brown dwarfs have spectral types just like main sequence stars: L and T with a provisional class Y. Even the ultra cool brown dwarf UGPS 0722-05 which is a possible candidate as a class Y would, at the distance of Jupiter from Earth, have an apparent magnitude brighter than the brightest star, and would be quite visible.
 
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  • #30
If there really was another very large body in the solar system, it would have (as Jupiter does), a significant effect on the orbital dynamics of smaller planets.
It should also cause (as Jupiter does), a slight 'wobble' of the Sun.
However we don't see anything peculiar happening.
Also Jupiter is often a very bright object in the sky and has been noted ever since anything in the sky was noted.
Yet somehow an even bigger object is proposed to exist, of which there is no historical record at all?
 
  • #31
Beth Doodle said:
But, what if it were back-lit by the sun? I think that's what the majority of believers seem to be saying. That we can't see it because its, from Earth's perspective, in what would be equivalent to the new moon phase.

It can't be back-lit because it's further away from us than the Sun (assuming its coming from the outer solar system). It would need to get between us and the Sun, and at that distance it would be horribly obvious. We're talking massive disruptions in the orbits of the inner planets and, when the dwarf was not in a direct line between the Sun and us, which would be most of the time since it would be moving faster in any orbit than we are, it would be extremely bright (just talking about reflected light here). You would be able to see it in the daytime quite easily.

Beth Doodle said:
Again, I explain my behavior, and apologize, in my previous post.

Thank you.
 
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  • #32
russ_watters said:
You added a lot of extra sub-questions to the periphery that have distracted from this core question. The answer is relatively straightforward and can be gleaned from looking into the collision of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter (Google for photos).

The collision was energetic, generating large balls of hot gas that were unfortunately termed "fireballs" (they were not on fire).

A collision between Jupiter and a larger gaseous body would be like that except much bigger. It would be a spectacular sight, lighting-up the daytime sky.

But unless some debris headed for Earth, it would have little lasting effect. Our orbit would wobble a bit less and our tides would smooth a little.

Also, FYI, the asteroid belt is pretty thin and has a small total mass, so a disruption of it wouldn't have much of an effect either.

[Edit] Hmm..., actually, a quick calc tells me the impact would release as much energy as the sun emits in 800 years. That would be enough to cause problems on Earth. Can someone check my math:
Sun output: 3.9x10^26 watts
Jupiter mass: 2x10^27 kg
Assume Jupiter hits it at 100kps.
At last! The drama I crave!

Just kidding! I do have to admit that this is more like what I would expect, from my layman's level of understanding.

I know that the direction of my questions changed and I wound up asking more later, but that's the nature of discussions. I had a number of question to ask but felt it was better to start off with one question, and then go from there. I knew the answers I received would steer me to the next questions I would want to have answered.

Drakkith said:
The problem is that there isn't a cut-and-dried answer. The details of what happen depend on the exact conditions of the event. A direct impact of a brown dwarf with Jupiter will be different from a near miss, which will be different from a slightly-less-near miss. The mass of the brown dwarf, its speed, trajectory, and a few other properties will also change things. If the event happened on a Tuesday we could end up with a major impact event on Earth, whereas if it happened a day later we might not even have a near-miss from the asteroid.

I started off the conversation with whether an impact could trigger an explosion, but I knew that I would need to ask follow-up questions, depending on what I was told. I was basically planning on presenting other what-if scenarios as the discussion progressed. That's why, after you persuaded me that a miss was more likely, I went on to ask about that.

Drakkith said:
Common sense starts to fail you when you start talking about uncommon situations that people don't usually experience or talk about. Astrophysics is one of these. Common sense would tell most people that you have to dodge and weave when going through the asteroid belt to avoid hitting an asteroid. But common sense is wrong here, as the average distance between asteroids is miles and miles and miles. You would be hard pressed to even see one as anything more than a small dot in the distance.

Actually, I'm going by more than just common sense. I do have a modicum of knowledge about astrophysics gleaned from years of watching Discovery Channel type TV shows. I know just enough to be dangerous. :wink: That's why I say I expected something more dramatic. I know about the mass of Jupiter and how that mass affects the orbits of every other object in the solar system. I already expected someone to mention the orbits shifting, although I didn't know how much of a shift there might be. I was however also interested in the other effects that I didn't know about - like how big the visual impact would be and whether or not it would cause impacts events on earth.

Drakkith said:
Also note that I don't know exactly what you mean by "spectacular" and "non-event". I have to go on my own guess of what you mean based on my understanding of those words and the situation. Would you be able to see it with the naked eye? Almost certainly. Will it look like the special effects from a sci-fi movie? Probably not. At best, a straight up collision would result in a bright source of light in the sky, probably easily outshining the Moon for a short period of time. If that's "spectacular", then I guess it's a spectacular event. A near-miss that tears the planet apart may still shine brightly, but I do not know the exact details of what it would look like.
Yes, I would count that as spectacular. And that is pretty much what I thought might happen. I just wanted to verify it and find out the extent and scope of the brightness - would it be just a bright point of light, or would it appear to us here on Earth as a larger glowing object and, if so, how large?

I brought up non-event because at that point in the discussion I had been told that there would be only a slight brightening that would take a telescope to see and that nothing much else would happen, except for the orbit shifts.
Drakkith said:
I would disagree with that person, but I also haven't done the math to see how close a brown dwarf would need to be to tear Jupiter apart.
No, you were quite right to disagree with them. I asked this question on an astronomy forum, but that person must have not really belonged there because they said that since Jupiter was a gas giant and therefor didn't have any solid ground (their word, not mine) then it can't be torn apart. After I explained to them about what mass was, just how much of it Jupiter had, etc. their original post suddenly disappeared.
 
  • #33
Beth Doodle said:
I guess because I am feeling frustrated.

I thought that this would be a cut-and-dried answer. When the brown dwarf reached Jupiter, such-and-such will happen. Then, after such-and-such a time, this will happen. To those who are watching from earth, they will see such-and-such in the sky. The long-term effects of this on Earth and the rest of the solar system would be such-and-such.

The problem is that too much depends on the actual circumstances of the encounter. For example, if we assume that a brown dwarf passes by Jupiter close enough for Jupiter to come within its Roche limit, there are a number a factors to consider. How fast are their relative speeds? How much more massive is the Brown dwarf than Jupiter? These two have a lot to do with the outcome. They both determine how long Jupiter remains close enough to the brown dwarf to stay inside the Roche limit. A lower relative velocity means they stay close together longer, and a more massive brown dwarf extends the size of the Roche limit so that Jupiter remains inside of it for a longer time.
If the brown dwarf is not very massive and moving quickly, it won't spend long in the vicinity of Jupiter. And while Jupiter will pull apart for the time when the tidal forces are strong enough, once the brown dwarf has passed by, the mutual gravity of its spread out matter will begin to exert itself and try to pull it back together again. Whether or not it is successful or not depends upon how much energy the tidal forces where able to impart to Jupiter. If the spreading material has reached escape velocity, it will continue to spread out, if it hasn't, it will collect back together.
If the brown dwarf is massive and slow, it will have a longer period in which to pull Jupiter apart and there is a greater chance that it will stay pulled apart.
 
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  • #34
rootone said:
If there really was another very large body in the solar system, it would have (as Jupiter does), a significant effect on the orbital dynamics of smaller planets.
It should also cause (as Jupiter does), a slight 'wobble' of the Sun.
However we don't see anything peculiar happening.
Also Jupiter is often a very bright object in the sky and has been noted ever since anything in the sky was noted.
Yet somehow an even bigger object is proposed to exist, of which there is no historical record at all?
I really wasn't planning on talking about this Niburu stuff beyond the setup for my question. I didn't want to go off into a conspiracy theory on a science forum, but since you ask, I'll explain it briefly. But, bear in mind that I have not memorized all the intricacies of this Niburu stuff because I wasn't one of the rabid followers. My interest was only because the whole thing fascinated me because the very suggestion that it might be true brought all sorts of colorful scenarios to mind. Big scifi fan here. :wink:

So, to the best of my recollection, the basic theory goes something like this.

Niburu/Nemisis/Wormwood/Planet X/etc. is our binary companion with an orbit of about 3,600 years. We are now supposed to be at the point where it has already entered and is currently somewhere nearby. How nearby depends on who is doing the talking. It varies from around Jupiter's orbit (hence the collision question) to almost here to Earth's orbit, which is why some are expecting a collision or near-miss with earth. There is supposed to be all sorts of historical evidence here on Earth of its previous passages through the inner solar system, but we don't need to go into that. Besides I can't recall the details anyway.

What I can recall about why we are not supposed to be able to see it is that for a good amount of time it's approach was from an extreme southern point of view. They said that it was only visible from the Antarctic for a very long time as it approached from behind the sun, from our point of view. That's the source of all sorts of conspiracy theories of the governments having bases there observing it but hiding the truth from the public. But now I guess it's supposed to be between the Earth and the sun - which is why they are all saying that it can't be seen now (back-lit), unless you use an infrared telescope.

I really can't go into much more detail than that because I just don't remember and I'd have to research it, and I'd rather not waste my time doing that, so please don't ask me for more info.

Drakkith said:
It can't be back-lit because it's further away from us than the Sun (assuming its coming from the outer solar system). It would need to get between us and the Sun, and at that distance it would be horribly obvious. We're talking massive disruptions in the orbits of the inner planets and, when the dwarf was not in a direct line between the Sun and us, which would be most of the time since it would be moving faster in any orbit than we are, it would be extremely bright (just talking about reflected light here). You would be able to see it in the daytime quite easily.
See back-lit above.
 
  • #35
Janus said:
The problem is that too much depends on the actual circumstances of the encounter. For example, if we assume that a brown dwarf passes by Jupiter close enough for Jupiter to come within its Roche limit, there are a number a factors to consider. How fast are their relative speeds? How much more massive is the Brown dwarf than Jupiter? These two have a lot to do with the outcome. They both determine how long Jupiter remains close enough to the brown dwarf to stay inside the Roche limit. A lower relative velocity means they stay close together longer, and a more massive brown dwarf extends the size of the Roche limit so that Jupiter remains inside of it for a longer time.
If the brown dwarf is not very massive and moving quickly, it won't spend long in the vicinity of Jupiter. And while Jupiter will pull apart for the time when the tidal forces are strong enough, once the brown dwarf has passed by, the mutual gravity of its spread out matter will begin to exert itself and try to pull it back together again. Whether or not it is successful or not depends upon how much energy the tidal forces where able to impart to Jupiter. If the spreading material has reached escape velocity, it will continue to spread out, if it hasn't, it will collect back together.
If the brown dwarf is massive and slow, it will have a longer period in which to pull Jupiter apart and there is a greater chance that it will stay pulled apart.
I know that people say they know the answers to the questions of this thing's mass, but I don't remember what that's supposed to be.

As far as it's velocity, all I can recall is that it is supposed to be in a 3,600 year orbit, if that helps. What the exact orbit is and what the path within the inner solar system is supposed to be varies. As I stated in my previous post, some think that there will be a direct impact with Jupiter (hence my original question), some think it will be a near pass to Jupiter. Other think there will be an impact with earth, but I think they are thinking more along the lines of a near pass with any impact being with either a planetary body or moon in orbit around the brown dwarf, or with a lot of iron oxide rich debris it's supposed to be dragging around with it.

Now please guys - no more questions about this, I'm not really comfortable talking about any more detail on this Niburu stuff on this science forum, My question and the answers I am seeking are based on science. I only brought Niburu up in the first place because it was the the basis of my original question. I only added the referral to Niburu because I knew that if I were ask my question without that reference, people would ask for it anyway. They'd want to know why I was asking about a brown dwarf impacting with Jupiter.

This is a science forum so I think we should stick to science from here on in. Okay?
 

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