What if a needle hits Jupiter at nearly speed of light?

In summary, the video suggests that the relativistic mass of the needle would be so high that it wouldn't accelerate at all, which would violate energy and momentum conservation.
  • #1
Lluis Olle
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TL;DR Summary
Just found this Youtube video to be extremely misleading, and I guess nothing extraordinary would happen.
https://youtu.be/V876-l9MAkU
This is much like the "grain of sand" at near speed of light hiting Earth, but now targeting Jupiter with a needle!

What if...

Any way, which is the correct way to analyze this kind of scenarios?

For example, I think than being the speed of the needle near c, is nonsense to think about the turbulences in the Jupiter atmosfere, because that atmosfere well look "static" from the needle's perspective.
 
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  • #2
The video in your link contains a lot of speculation. I don't know about calling it misleading. We do not know much about the structure of Jupiter, and high speed "needles" are not something we can easily experiment with.

This Veritasium video on high energy particles entering the atmosphere could give you something to think about. Around the 8-minute mark he talks about high energy cosmic "rays" entering our atmosphere.

 
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  • #3
The video is a hodge podge of facts many of which are applied incorrectly.
 
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  • #4
I didn't watch most of the video. Not sure why they wanted to use a needle since a foam ball of equivalent mass would do the same thing. Both would reduce to plasma at first contact and would not reach beyond the upper layers.

Looking at some of the comments, the video seems to suggests that the relativistic mass of the needle would be so high that it wouldn't accelerate at all, which would violate energy and momentum conservation.
If you hit a planet with such a thing, one can show that some mass might get ejected on the far side at over escape velocity. Very little if any of that will be the actual particles of the needle, if the identity of those particles even have meaning. Yes, Jupiter will get hot in places, but it will still be there afterwards, with little alteration to its orbit if most of the momentum of the needle exits with the ejected matter.
 
  • #5
scottdave said:
I don't know about calling it misleading.
For example, it needs to make the needle indestructible, because other way it would disintegrate as soon as it touches the outer atmosphere (?). But if it's indestructible. that means that the needle mostly doesn't interact with Jupiter and only punches a "hole", so will pass through basically unaltered.

For example, it begins saying that the Energy of the needle would be "near infinite" (Ok, let's consider that the video refers to quasi-c speeds, for example 1 m/s below c, so its a big amount of energy for a needle).

Then, as the needle is metallic, the huge magnetic field of Jupiter would "knock out" its trajectory, and make that needle a new but tiny satellite of Jupiter ... so where that huge energy went??? I thing is confusing what the magnetic field can do to a moving charged particle with a ferromagnetic particle.
 
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  • #6
Lluis Olle said:
For example, it needs to make the needle indestructible, because other way it would disintegrate as soon as it touches the outer atmosphere (?). But if it's indestructible. that means that the needle mostly doesn't interact with Jupiter and only punches a "hole", so will pass through basically unaltered.

For example, it begins saying that the Energy of the needle would be "near infinite" (Ok, let's consider that the video refers to quasi-c speeds, for example 1 m/s below c, so its a big amount of energy for a needle).

Then, as the needle is metallic, the huge magnetic field of Jupiter would "knock out" its trajectory, and make that needle a new but tiny satellite of Jupiter ... so where that huge energy went??? I thing is confusing what the magnetic field can do to a moving charged particle with a ferromagnetic particle.
You are trying to understand bad science. It is not a productive use of your time.
 
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  • #7
Lluis Olle said:
Then, as the needle is metallic, the huge magnetic field of Jupiter would "knock out" its trajectory, and make that needle a new but tiny satellite of Jupiter ... so where that huge energy went??? I thing is confusing what the magnetic field can do to a moving charged particle with a ferromagnetic particle.
When higher velocity matter strikes lower velocity, or static, matter, there is a transfer of kinetic energy and momentum. The high velocity needle flying into the Jovian atmosphere would begin to heat and erode, and a shock wave would form around the needle. If it was made of a ferromagnetic field, it would be influenced by Jupiter's magnetic field, until the temperature exceeded the curie temperature. A tiny satellite, a bluff body with a larger cross section would compress the atmosphere ahead of itself. Think of what happens when a meteorite enters the earth's atmosphere.

Solar particles (protons and alpha particles) and galactic cosmic particles (protons, alpha particles, . . . . ) strike the earth's atmosphere continually. Think of auroras in the polar regions. Individual particles interact with electrons in the atoms of atmospheric gases, and may also strike the nuclei and cause a spallation reaction, i.e., knocking out protons, neutrons, deuterons, . . . , and in some cases, if the energy is great enough, generating antimatter.

Lluis Olle said:
For example, it needs to make the needle indestructible, because other way it would disintegrate as soon as it touches the outer atmosphere (?). But if it's indestructible. that means that the needle mostly doesn't interact with Jupiter and only punches a "hole", so will pass through basically unaltered.

For example, it begins saying that the Energy of the needle would be "near infinite" (Ok, let's consider that the video refers to quasi-c speeds, for example 1 m/s below c,
It is silly to ponder 'indestructible' matter and velocities of 1 m/s below c. Rather, consider the physics of the actual material and its interaction with an atmosphere that begins as a tenuous gas and gradually increases in density as an object descends toward the 'surface'.

It would be more worthwhile considering actual experimental work, such as the relativisitic heavy ion collider. https://www.bnl.gov/rhic/
 
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  • #8
Astronuc said:
Solar particles (protons and alpha particles) and galactic cosmic particles (protons, alpha particles, . . . . ) strike the earth's atmosphere continually. Think of auroras in the polar regions. Individual particles interact with electrons in the atoms of atmospheric gases, and may also strike the nuclei and cause a spallation reaction, i.e., knocking out protons, neutrons, deuterons, . . . , and in some cases, if the energy is great enough, generating antimatter.
Yes, I know.

So we have to imagine that the needle travelling at c-1 (c minus 1 m/s) is just a collection of mostly iron atoms (at that speed, we don't care about he forces that tie together the needle, and the atoms just happens to be travelling together forming that curious shape resembling a needle).

Also, at that speed, for the "needle" the length contraction of Jupiter would be some 4 or 5 order of magnitude.

My guess is that at that speed, Jupiter will look much the same thing as a thin layer of Hydrogen, and the outer layers of the needle would compress the inner core of the needle that would go through Jupiter in a kind of inertial confinement. Nothing noticeable would happen.
 
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  • #9
Lluis Olle said:
Yes, I know.

So we have to imagine that the needle travelling at c-1 (c minus 1 m/s) is just a collection of mostly iron atoms (at that speed, we don't care about he forces that tie together the needle, and the atoms just happens to be travelling together forming that curious shape resembling a needle).

Also, at that speed, for the "needle" the length contraction of Jupiter would be some 4 or 5 order of magnitude.

My guess is that at that speed, Jupiter will look much the same thing as a thin layer of Hydrogen, and the outer layers of the needle would compress the inner core of the needle that would go through Jupiter in a kind of inertial confinement. Nothing noticeable would happen.
You can analyse the collision from Jupiter's rest frame and realise that appealing to the extreme length contraction of Jupiter in the needle's frame is a spurious idea.
 
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  • #10
PeroK said:
You can analyse the collision from Jupiter's rest frame...
Yes obviously.

But from the needle's point of view - which is not "spurious" -, length will be contracted, so the density of Jupiter's mater will be much higher.

What I want to point out is that unlike the collision of a particle or some particles, there's a lot of them in the needle, so the "collisions" in the outer layers will somehow compress symmetrically the inner layers of the needle, and I think than most of the needle will pass though Jupiter, and from the outside viewer (more or less at rest wrt Jupiter), will seem as a thin burst or ray of high energy particles mostly going outwards Jupiter in the initial direction of the needle.
 
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  • #11
”I think” is not a valid scientific argument unless supported by actual physics predictions. In this case, it is completely wrong.

The cross section for the iron atoms in the needle to collide multiplied with the column density of Jupiter is still enormous. So enormous that the chance of passing through is astronomically small.
 
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  • #12
Orodruin said:
I think” is not a valid scientific argument unless...
Yes, I agree, but what I said is not a scientific argument, is just my opinion.
Orodruin said:
The cross section for the iron atoms...
The cross section for what kind of nuclear interaction, and at what energies? Do you have some data about cross-sections for Fe nuclei colliding with (mostly 98%) Hydrogen atoms, and some (2%) Helium at energies of about 1000 TeV or larger, for example? If you can provide such information, then you can talk about probabilities being "astronomically" small. If not, you guess is as valid as my guess, because you neither provide any scientific argument that backups what you say.

But, it's true that I didn't backup my opinion with any reasoning.

So, what I think is that in the scenario of the aforementioned Youtube video, the needle travelling at near c speed will partially go through Jupiter, produce a "shower" of radiation when it enters the Jupiter atmosphere, go through Jupiter - and its core -, and leave as a jet of radiation and particles,... where some of the initial Fe atoms would emerge at the other side, perhaps as other Isotopes of Fe, or converted to Nickel or some other heavy atoms.

For that, as the video talks of "needle at c-speed" - which is not possible -, I translate into "needle at a near c-speed", that can be as near c as we can think.

And I can think with scientific evidence, for example, in the "Oh-my-good-particle" with and energy of 1020 eV, and say that each Fe atom in the needle has that energy, or 1000 times that energy for the sake of the scenario.

Are you sure that the probability of some Fe (or converted) atoms go thought Jupiter is astronomically small, if I can make the energy of such colliding Fe atoms (billions of them) as high as needed?
 
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  • #13
Lluis Olle said:
I agree, but what I said is not a scientific argument, is just my opinion.
Then it is off limits in this forum. This is a science forum, not a forum for unbased opinion.
 
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  • #14
Lluis Olle said:
TL;DR Summary: Just found this Youtube video to be extremely misleading, and I guess nothing extraordinary would happen.


This is much like the "grain of sand" at near speed of light hiting Earth, but now targeting Jupiter with a needle!

What if...

Any way, which is the correct way to analyze this kind of scenarios?

For example, I think than being the speed of the needle near c, is nonsense to think about the turbulences in the Jupiter atmosfere, because that atmosfere well look "static" from the needle's perspective.

The key point is that the question being asked breaks the law of physics. Objects with rest mass can never travel at the speed of light - only photons and gravitational waves can do that. And, at relativistic speeds, the kinetic energy of the needle can vary dramatically with tiny changes in the speed in km/s. But in a lot of the scenarios presented, the amount of kinetic energy in the needle is critically important to calculating any effect.

Also, of course, nothing is indestructible and treating a needle as a simple indestructible bulk solid object also violates the laws of physics. At some point, if a proton in the needle collides with a proton in Jupiter, the momentum exchange of the interactions transform into quark-gluon plasma in a manner not too different from a maximally powerful collision at the Large Hadron Collider.

Turbulence indeed shouldn't matter, but the number of particles per a given volume would. You'd want to think about how many particles would be hit in each layer and what each of those interactions would look like.

On the other hand, the video isn't really mostly about what would happen if an indestructible needle hit Jupiter at the speed of light, which is impossible anyway. This is really just a cute way to talk about what we know about the structure of Jupiter.
 
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  • #15
Lluis Olle said:
TL;DR Summary: Just found this Youtube video to be extremely misleading, and I guess nothing extraordinary would happen.


This is much like the "grain of sand" at near speed of light hiting Earth, but now targeting Jupiter with a needle!

What if...

Any way, which is the correct way to analyze this kind of scenarios?

For example, I think than being the speed of the needle near c, is nonsense to think about the turbulences in the Jupiter atmosfere, because that atmosfere well look "static" from the needle's perspective.

That video is not a valid basis for PF discussion, for reasons which have been well explained by other posters.

Your speculations are incorrect, and the video is not a good basis from which to speculate anyway.

Thread closed.
 
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Related to What if a needle hits Jupiter at nearly speed of light?

1. What would happen if a needle hit Jupiter at nearly the speed of light?

If a needle were to hit Jupiter at nearly the speed of light, it would likely cause a massive explosion. The impact would release an enormous amount of energy, potentially equivalent to a nuclear bomb. This explosion would create a shockwave that could cause significant damage to the planet and its surrounding moons.

2. Would the needle be able to penetrate Jupiter's atmosphere at such a high speed?

It is unlikely that the needle would be able to penetrate Jupiter's atmosphere at such a high speed. Jupiter's atmosphere is composed of thick layers of gas, and the needle would encounter immense resistance as it traveled through these layers. It is more likely that the needle would disintegrate upon impact with the atmosphere.

3. Could this impact alter Jupiter's orbit or trajectory?

It is possible that this impact could alter Jupiter's orbit or trajectory, but the change would likely be minimal. Jupiter is a massive planet, and the needle's impact would be relatively small in comparison. It would take an incredibly powerful force to significantly alter Jupiter's orbit or trajectory.

4. What would be the long-term effects of this impact on Jupiter?

The long-term effects of this impact on Jupiter would depend on the size and speed of the needle, as well as the location of the impact. If the needle were large enough and hit a critical area of the planet, it could potentially cause long-term damage to Jupiter's atmosphere or structure. However, it is more likely that the effects would be short-lived and localized to the impact site.

5. Is it possible for a needle to reach the speed of light?

No, it is not possible for a needle or any other object to reach the speed of light. According to Einstein's theory of relativity, the speed of light is the maximum speed at which anything in the universe can travel. Objects with mass, like a needle, would require an infinite amount of energy to reach the speed of light, which is not possible.

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