Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system and is known as a gas giant.
The planet is named, rather fittingly, after the chief Roman god who ruled over the whole sky, weather, and light. In fact, Jupiter is so large that its mass is greater than all of the other planets in our solar system combined.
The gas giant dominates all gravitational interactions within the Milky Way and is among the most impressive observable bodies in the night sky. So what would happen if this gas giant was to suddenly explode?
What Would Happen If Jupiter Exploded?
If Jupiter exploded, it would affect the orbit of all the other planets in the solar system too. We don’t know exactly how this would go down, but scientists are sure that without the protective forces Jupiter provides, Earth is likely to be struck with more asteroids and meteors than we could imagine.
In other words, if Jupiter was to suddenly explode, the gravitational influence it had over objects nearby in space would be strongly affected instantly.
Firstly, it’s important to consider that Jupiter has a lot of moons, seventy-nine to be exact. And these are just the moons that we are currently aware of, there could be further moons that are yet to be discovered. Upon an explosion, these moons would fly off in different directions across space.
However, due to the gravity in our solar system, they’re likely to hurtle towards other planets and celestial bodies in the Milky Way, rather than being tossed out of the solar system completely, which isn’t great news for planet Earth. In fact, researchers and scientists believe that roughly half of Jupiter’s moon would be flung towards the inner solar system, while the other half would most likely head in the opposite direction.
The information we have about Jupiter’s moons comes from NASA’s Voyager expedition back in 1979 and the Galileo expedition in 1995, which revealed that Jupiter has four ‘major’ moons. Scientists call these moons Galilean moons.
These include lo, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Each of the four Galileon moons is larger than 3000km in diameter, which is truly massive. To help put this into perspective, this is about a quarter of the size of Earth. So if these moons were to fly in our direction, there would be huge consequences.
It’s believed that if one of Jupiter’s moons were to collide with our planet after a sudden explosion on Jupiter, or even if it just hit our moon, it would wipe us out completely. Jupiter’s gravitational pull also has a huge influence on the asteroid belt, and without this asteroid belt, it would cause huge changes to the asteroid’s orbit and where they end up.
It is likely that after an explosion on Jupiter, at least two Galileon satellites would move freely along the asteroid belt. In turn, this would affect the orbit of asteroids and some of which would be headed toward the inner solar system.
Is Jupiter Likely To Ever Explode?
While it’s clear that the explosion of Jupiter would spell the end of days for us here on Earth, fortunately, this is highly unlikely to ever happen. In fact, scientists have stated that there is literally nothing in the universe that would cause the gas giant to explode.
But from a strictly hypothetical standpoint, if Jupiter were to somehow explode, the energy generated by the explosion would throw the traditional outer and inner solar system planets into a sort of free-for-all. This would result in the larger gas planets being sent either toward the sun or flinging them away and out of the solar system completely.
After an explosion on Jupiter, the rest of the planets in our solar system would be lucky to come away unscathed. The explosion would send a giant comet cloud toward the inner solar system, which the other planets would need to dodge. The size of this comet cloud would be truly massive, and it could take hundreds if not thousands of years to settle down completely.
However, even after the comet cloud has passed and the asteroids have ceased flying around, the solar system will not go back to the way it was before. In fact, it would be entirely unrecognizable. There would no longer be eight planets in our solar system, and the Earth would be completely uninhabitable, lacking its lush green landscapes and expansive blue seas.
How Soon Would We Know?
Even though Jupiter is thousands of miles away from Earth, it wouldn’t take long for humans to find out about the explosion of the gas giant. To put it bluntly, it would be like a disaster movie coming to life before our very eyes. The first signs of a Jupiter explosion would reach us in the form of Gamma rays, which would arrive at Earth roughly 36 minutes after the initial explosion.
And if you’re not already aware, Gamma rays are extremely harmful to the human body and can penetrate just about anything including skin, clothes, lead, and even concrete. These rays can, and will, cause all sorts of damage, such as skin damage, bone marrow degradation, cell destruction, internal organ failure, and cancer.
If the explosion were to occur from the very center of Jupiter, the hydrogen and methyl that is trapped there would be released into the atmosphere, resulting in giant shock waves all across the solar system. As a consequence, a slurry of radioactive matter and emissions would take hold of Earth. This would affect human life very quickly.
In fact, satellites in the atmosphere would instantly liquefy when they come into contact with these gamma rays, and all electrical equipment on Earth would stop working. This wouldn’t be a huge issue for us, as we’d have no time to call loved ones to say our final goodbyes anyway. We’d be wiped out in a matter of mere seconds thanks to the lethal material and electromagnetic radiation sent our way by gamma rays.
But these harmful Gamma rays wouldn’t stop there. After they’ve penetrated Earth and wiped us out completely, they’d continue making their way through the universe.
This would result in the destruction of planetary moons and the asteroid belt. Other gas giants could be sent flying towards our sun or even flung out of the solar system altogether. Fortunately, as stated earlier, this will never happen and this scenario can only exist in our nightmares and science fiction movies.
What If Jupiter Collided With Earth?
As Jupiter is the largest planetary body in our solar system, a collision with Earth would be particularly catastrophic. The gas giant has a history of colliding with other planets, and it already did so roughly 4.5 billion years ago.
The planet it collided with was 10 times larger than Earth and unsurprisingly, it no longer exists. This is because Jupiter’s gravitational pull was thirty times stronger than it currently is, and it pulled the other planets into one giant gas planet. It is believed that this planet collided with Jupiter at an impressive speed of 29 miles per second.
So, if Earth was to somehow get anywhere near Jupiter, we’d be in big trouble. All life would likely be wiped out before we even pass Mars, as we’d have half the sunlight we need to survive as we are.
When we finally approach Jupiter, the Earth would be sucked into its gravitational orbit at 37 miles per second. Scientists believe that we wouldn’t even get the chance to collide with the gas giant, as our essence would be completely absorbed by its atmosphere alone.
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