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Could we destroy Jupiter since it is made of hydrogen gas?

Can we destroy Jupiter with a little fire? On Earth, we know that hydrogen gas is extremely explosive. And we know that Jupiter is made mostly of hydrogen. So could we just set it on fire and turn Jupiter into a giant fireball?

Classic riddle

Q: A man (wearing a respirator) finds himself in a dark room containing only hydrogen gas. He tries to light an ordinary match. What happens?

A: Nothing. A match won’t burn without oxygen.

Jupiter is a very similar. It is similar to a room full of hydrogen gas but it is a planet. If you exposed the whole plane to “fire”, there is nothing for the hydrogen to react with. There is very little oxygen on Jupiter, so nothing can burn.

A comet cannot destroy Jupiter

This is not theory. Science knows that we cannot destroy Jupiter so easily. We have witnessed a high-speed comet strike Jupiter a few decade ago.

When the remnants of Shoemaker-Levy 9 struck Jupiter in 1994, some very interesting things were observed about Jupiter. Like, at first, a giant FIREBALL.

Comet striking Jupiter
Animated Impact of comet with Jupiter

But that was expected. A comet moves at high speed and release a lot of energy when it hits anything. Essentially, these comet fragments punched through Jupiter’s atmosphere, which astronomers expected would swirl up material from under the top layer. Which they would then observe to gain a better understanding of Jupiter’s interior.

Jupiter after impact with comet
Burning Jupiter? A comet impact doesn’t destroy Jupiter.

And they saw things, like ammonia and sulfur. But no sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide would indicate that oxygen had reacted with sulfur. Further suggesting that there just isn’t much oxygen on Jupiter.

However there is a small amount of water vapor. And that could come from many sources. And if any oxygen did react with hydrogen, we would expect water vapor as the result. But, we also don’t see much water vapor on Jupiter either.

Read more:

Puffy Lux

What do you think?

Written by David


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