So What Happens if You Blow Up a Planet?
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the Death Star. Besides the obvious issues associated with destroying an entire planet, there are also the concerns for the effects that the destruction of a planet would have on other planets in the same system.
So what does happen to other planets in the same system as a planet that is completely destroyed by the Death Star?
To answer this question HowStuffWorks went to F. Todd Baker, Physics Professor at the University of Georgia Department of Physics And Astronomy. Here was his answer:
Regarding the moons of a planet, the subsequent motion would be determined by what happens to the debris from the planet. Of course the "destruction" of a planet does not mean that its mass disappears, it is just redistributed. A couple of scenarios:
- Suppose the earth became a cloud of debris with 10 times the radius of the present earth. Then this cloud would continue orbiting the sun as it does now (the length of a year would be the same) and the moon would continue orbiting this cloud as it does the earth now (the length of a month would be the same). This supposes that the cloud of debris were roughly spherically symmetric.
- Suppose that the annihilation were so catastrophic that the debris completely dispersed in a spherically symmetric way. As soon as some of the debris passed the moon's orbit, the gravitational force on the moon would begin decreasing and the moon would change its orbit in a continuous way until, finally, it would be orbiting the sun in an orbit more or less the same as the earth's current orbit. All the debris would also end up orbiting the sun in many different kinds of orbits much as asteroids and comets do today; some would end up in orbits which resulted in their hitting the sun.
For more information on the Death Star and related topics, check out the links that follow.
- Who Said It: Darth Vader or Obi-Wan Kenobi?
- The Ultimate Star Wars Quiz
- The Ultimate Movies Quiz
- How Lightsabers Work
- The Sith Explained
- How Industrial Light & Magic Works
- How the Batmobile Works
- How the Batsuit Works
- How Sci-fi Doesn't Work
- How Warp Speed Works
- How does a Star Wars lightsaber work?
- How Space Wars Will Work
More Great Links
- The Force.net: Star Wars Technical Commentaries -- Death Stars http://www.theforce.net/swtc/ds/
- The Force.net Boards: A History of the Death Stars -- Another TalonCard Project (TM) http://boards.theforce.net/Literature/b10003/13120474/p1
- NASA Photo Journal http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA05423
- Sam's Archive: How To Destroy the Earth http://ned.ucam.org/~sdh31/misc/destroy.html#fiction
- Stardestroyer.net: Death Star Firepower http://www.stardestroyer.net/Empire/Tech/Beam/DeathStar.html
- Star Wars Databank: Admiral Motti http://www.starwars.com/databank/character/admiralmotti/index.html
- Star Wars Databank: Death Star http://www.starwars.com/databank/location/deathstar/?id=eu
- Star Wars Databank: Death Star II http://www.starwars.com/databank/location/deathstarii/?id=eu
- Star Wars Databank: The Empire http://www.starwars.com/databank/organization/theempire/
- Star Wars Databank: General Tagge http://www.starwars.com/databank/character/generaltagge/index.html
- Star Wars Databank: Grand Moff Tarkin http://www.starwars.com/databank/character/grandmofftarkin/index.html
- Star Wars Databank: Moff Jerjerrod http://www.starwars.com/databank/character/moffjerjerrod/index.html
- Star Wars Databank: Superlaser http://www.starwars.com/databank/technology/superlaser/
- UGA's Department of Physics and Astronomy "Ask The Physicist" http://www.physast.uga.edu/ask_phys.html