Jupiter. 11 times bigger than Earth. The largest planet in our solar system is made predominantly from hydrogen and helium. It makes you think, what would happen if Jupiter exploded? Would it be the end of the Solar System as we know it? What about Earth? Would it be over for us? Some very ominous questions to worry about, but what I’ll say is try to relax! It’s very, very unlikely that Jupiter will explode anytime soon. Nevertheless, let’s delve into the answers you came for today!
So, what would happen if Jupiter exploded? If Jupiter exploded, massive parts of it would fly through space in various directions at incredibly high velocities. At first, the loose debris would clatter into Jupiter’s moons, the most nearby objects. Then debris and gamma radiation would continue on through space and smash into whatever they came into contact with. If they were to collide with Earth, it could be the end of humanity.
That is how fatal such a collision would be.
But ultimately, it depends on how large the parts would be and where they go.
Let’s continue to explore, shall we?
How Could Jupiter Explode?
Jupiter could explode if another planet crashed into it with enough force and energy. It would also need to increase its mass by 13 times its original size if it were to ignite and explode the same way a star does.
Now let me just reiterate, don’t panic! The theories that detail how Jupiter could explode are just that: theories! They are not predictions, merely theoretical explanations of how the solar system’s biggest planet could explode.
Many of the elements required for an explosion are present in Jupiter’s composition, but it does not possess enough combustible materials for it to ignite.
Therefore, the most plausible scenario that would cause Jupiter to explode would be it colliding with another planet. And trust me, that ain’t happening anytime soon either.
Even if it did, the chances are that Jupiter would actually be broken up into pieces rather than face an explosion.
An unimaginable amount of energy and force is required to explode a planet, especially one of Jupiter’s size.
In fact, it would take approximately 5×10^26 tons of TNT to blow up Jupiter.
For this reason, amongst many others, we are yet to see a planet explode.
But we do know that stars burn and eventually explode. So what have they got that planet’s haven’t?
Well, stars burn and eventually explode because they have thermonuclear reactions occurring deep inside their core centers.
Now, any object in space that has less than 8% of our sun’s mass is unable to ignite and explode because its nuclear reactions aren’t substantial enough.
So, stars are big enough to do this, especially when you consider that most of them are bigger than our sun anyway.
However, some stars are too small and, therefore, unable to ignite, and these are known as brown dwarfs.
But going back to planets, the key fact to know is that typically they don’t have strong enough thermonuclear reactions occurring at their cores to make them explode.
When we look at the specific case of Jupiter, this planet, despite its impressive size, would require 13 times more of its present mass to have the ability to ignite itself and explode. If Jupiter wants to explode anytime soon, it’s going to have to gain some mass.
But it’s very unlikely to do this, as it will not only lose mass over time by atmospheric escape, but gaining mass takes considerable time. It needs to acquire cosmic dust and be hit by many more meteors to do so.
If it did, of course manage to do this, it would eventually then explode when it ran out of gas.
What Would Happen To The Solar System If Jupiter Exploded?
If Jupiter exploded, much of the solar system would remain untouched. Only objects that the debris and gamma radiation collided with would see devastating destruction upon impact.
So, somehow Jupiter has managed to find a way to explode. Let’s not worry about how this has happened right now.
Instead, let’s work out what would happen to the rest of our solar system.
Because of the explosion, large chunks of debris are now traveling away from the explosion’s central point toward different directions in the universe.
And within hours after Jupiter’s hypothetical explosion, the nearby surrounding objects would start to feel the impacts.
First on the list would be Jupiter’s moon. Or should I say moons, as the planet has a few!
As these moons are the closest objects to Jupiter, they would be the first hit by the exploded debris traveling at immensely high velocities.
Once the moons have been clattered, more debris would rocket off further afield in the solar system.
Would other planets be hit? Well, the chances are slim…but if they were, the impacts would be devastating.
It would basically be a case of luck of the draw. Any planets or objects hit by debris would be severely damaged or maybe even destroyed, such would the force be.
Of course, any objects that remain untouched by debris will carry on without a scratch. They might not even be aware of the fact that Jupiter has blown up.
It’s also worth noting that some planets may have to adjust their gravitational balance. Objects in the universe have gravitational relationships with one another.
So, if one object is drastically changed or removed, say through an explosion, then the gravitational relationship it has with other objects will change. How drastic this change will be is hard to tell.
Would Earth Be Affected If Jupiter Exploded?
Earth would be affected if Jupiter exploded. Loose debris from Jupiter could crash into Earth, wiping out humanity. The gamma radiation produced by the explosion would also travel through space to Earth, and that would have some pretty undesirable consequences as well.
Yep, the truth is that Earth, in particular its inhabitants like us humans and animals, would be the most affected if Jupiter exploded.
Two threats are posed by Jupiter exploding. The first is that of loose debris, and the second is to do with gamma radiation which was briefly mentioned earlier.
Now, let’s explore these two threats separately.
We’ve kind of touched on this already. Loose debris from Jupiter’s explosion would travel through space at such high-velocity speeds.
If any of this debris collided with Earth, the results would be devastating.
Now, how big the bit of debris does play a part.
But let’s just say that if the debris that hit Earth was big enough, it could wipe out all of the life living on the planet’s surface.
Earth itself, the planet, would be ok.
Well, it would be badly damaged. But it would survive as, for reasons discussed earlier, the collision with the debris would not be enough to create a whole new explosion.
Instead, Earth would maintain its core and orbit, staying true as a planet in our solar system.
But as humans and animals? Yeah, we’d all die upon impact. Yikes!
If Jupiter were to explode, lots of energy would be released from the planet’s core, including gamma rays.
These gamma rays could reach Earth in high quantities in as little as 36 minutes.
Gamma rays are very dangerous. They can penetrate through any material, including bones and teeth. Just by knowing this, it’s clear that the devastation gamma rays would inflict on our planet would be terrible.
Why Doesn’t Jupiter Explode?
Jupiter doesn’t explode because it isn’t big enough to produce thermonuclear reactions that would ignite and explode the planet. It also doesn’t have enough oxygen to spark an explosive reaction with its vast quantities of hydrogen.
We’ve already discussed thermonuclear reactions. This is the first reason why Jupiter doesn’t explode.
Just to run through it quickly again, because Jupiter has a mass less than 8% of the sun, it is not big enough to produce significant thermonuclear reactions.
In other words, Jupiter’s thermonuclear reactions aren’t substantial enough for the planet to ignite and blow itself up.
Now, the other reason Jupiter doesn’t blow up is that it doesn’t have any oxygen.
What’s so explosive about oxygen? Well, I’ll tell you.
Jupiter has lots of hydrogen. Hydrogen explodes when it combines with oxygen. Here is the exact formula for such a reaction to occur:
2 H2 + O2 => 2 H2O + energy
As Jupiter is missing oxygen, such a reaction cannot take place.
This is the same for most planets in our solar system.
It’s only really Earth that is so rich in oxygen.
Jupiter isn’t exploding anytime soon.
It would take some seriously unpredictable circumstances to occur if it were to explode at all.
This is a fortunate fact.
As if Jupiter did explode, that could be it for us living creatures of Earth!
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Hey, my name is Chris. I’m a passionate and seasoned astronomer who loves nothing more than observing the night sky. I also love researching, learning, and writing all things Space and the Universe. I created Astronomy Scope to share my knowledge, experience, suggestions, and recommendations of what I have learned along the way while helping anyone to get into and maximize their enjoyment of the hobby.