Could You Make a Viable Stellar System From Jelly Tots?

OK, so I understand our solar system formed from a huge cloud of gas and dust. But could a viable stellar system form from a vast cloud of jelly tots? If you are unfamiliar with the sweets, here’s a link.

The accretion process should work in a similar way, and I posit that hard gums will form under pressure as the tots clump together to form jellytesimals. However, would it be possible to form a star out of tots, or would it collapse under it’s own gravity before initiating fusion reactions? The composition of the tots might cause some problems.

For reference, the ingredients in a bag of tots are as follows:

“Sugar, Glucose syrup, Modified starch, Fruit juices 6% (Strawberry, Orange, Blackcurrant, Lime, Lemon), Acidity regulator (Trisodium citrate), Malic acid, Citric acid, Flavouring, Lactic acid, Colours (Anthocyanins, Copper complexes of chlorophyllins, Beta-carotene).”

Gives us plenty of hydrogen, and also a large abundance of oxygen and carbon. In addition to the listed ingredients, we should assume that the tots contain very small traces of all elements.

What would a planet formed out of tots be like? Could life conceivably arise on such a planet?

Finally, how many bags (25g) do I need to buy? (Although thinking about it, buying the 168g tubes would be more economical).

(Think there is just about enough here that can be answered factually for this thread to go in GQ).

Well, with Jelly Tots being made of mostly sugar, C[sub]6[/sub]H[sub]12[/sub]O[sub]6[/sub], you’d end up with a star composed of 7% hydrogen, 37% carbon and 53% Oxygen by mass. Since stars are typically 99% hydrogen, you’d have an odd one, but it’d probably fuse somehow.
The stellar wind from your newly formed star would likely be ineffective at clearing out ‘dust grains’ as massive as a jelly Tot, so you’d end up with lots of candy asteroids.
With a solar nebula of the usual composition, you’ll start to see brown dwarfs forming when the central mass hits about 80 Jupiters, that’s 1.5 × 10[sup]29[/sup] kilograms.

Stick on a factor of 10 for your dearth of hydrogen, and another 10 for the screwed up concretion dynamics, and maybe 1.5×10[sup]31[/sup] kilograms of Jelly Tots would get you a star.

You’d need to get the star sufficiently large to ignite carbon burning and oxygen burning. Most “natural” stars that use such processes are red giants, but as long as you start with enough mass I would guess that you’d get the ignition of a fusion cycle, and with enough time you’d probably get the onion-like structure of a normal red giant (see the bottom of the last page I linked.) I’d guess that you’d need 5-10 solar masses of Jelly Tots, which corresponds to about 500,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 25-g bags. Better go for the tubes instead — you’ll only need about one-seventh the number of packages that way.

Life & planets are a little more dicey if the star skips straight from main-sequence to a red giant. Red giants are more luminous than main-sequence stars of the same mass, and you already need several solar masses to get the carbon cycle going. This means that any planet you have will have to several AU away from the star to be at the same average temperature as Earth. Also, your planets aren’t going to have very much nitrogen at all, so you’ll need to either postulate a biochemistry without amino acids or throw in some beef jerky for protein.

But Jelly Tots are wonderful. Why would anyone want to create a star from them, since presumably they would be too hot to eat afterwards?

Whatever lifeform develops, it’ll be really out of shape.

With that kind of initial metallicity[sup]*[/sup], I imagine that you’d go straight from “big spherical lump of goo that doesn’t do anything” to “supernova” in a fraction of a second, without bothering with intermediate stages like a red giant. You might not even be able to get any fusion going at all before you formed a black hole (but you’d still get your supernova; the formation of a black hole tends to be a messy process).

Oh, and the sugar jelly tots are made of is probably mostly sucrose, C[sup]12[/sup] H[sup]22[/sup] O[sup]11[/sup], not the glucose that Squink gave the formula for. Not that it makes much difference.

*to astronomers, anything heavier than hydrogen or helium (including the carbon and oxygen which make up most of a jelly tot) is considered a metal, and the proportion of metals in a star has a huge impact on how it evolves.

I also could have been thinking of Gulose, Allose, Altros, Mannose, Idose, Galactose, or Tallose, rather than strictly Glucose.
I just gave a general formula for 6 carbon sugars, rather than attempt to deal with the varying amounts of water that get split out to make more complicated carbohydrates, to say nothing of glycerol, erythritol, and other odd sugar-like compounds that are probably in the candy.

If the gooey mess doesn’t blow up immediately, you’ll end up with some sort of superduper Carbon Star.

This is the best GQ thread title in living memory, I think.


But now I’m going to have a Pavlovian reflex to astronomy. Great.

I’ve read up some more on stellar evolution, let’s see if I understand the problem better now.

According to the link, you need a star of at least 4 solar masses to initiate carbon burning. Unfortunately, my jelly tot protostar will undergo carbon detonation when it reaches the Chandresekhar limit of about 1.4 solar masses, giving us a Type 1a Supernova. Very few jelly tots would be likely to survive such a conflagration.

Would none of the hydrogen in the protostar fuse? I can understand the presence of the other elements would seriously impede the p-p chain reactions, but the temperature and pressure at the core would be much higher than in a red dwarf.

Good point. I’d probably need to add some spinach or something. Who would have thought my mother’s advice regarding a balanced diet would be relevant on a cosmic scale?

That wouldn’t be good news for totkind. They would be unlikely to develop art, poety or even soap operas if they have to duck flaming balls of jelly falling from the sky every 5 minutes.

Also, with no heavy metals, and no radioactive elements to speak of, your planets are going to have no internal heat source. No tectonics and, sadly, no Big Rock Candy Mountains.

I think you get a crusty ball of goo, with a bit of cracking and some leakage from the soft hot center. Not sure what the syrup oceans would be like.


Look, if you are a Douglas Adams wannabe, I want no part of this.

I think you’re misunderstanding the mechanism behind a Type 1a Supernova. In a conventional star, if a new source of energy is “turned on”, then the temperature increases; since conventional stars act essentially like big balls of gas (to a good approximation), the increase in temperature causes an increase in pressure, and this in turn causes the star to expand outwards, thereby cooling the star until a new equilibrium is reached. It’s a self-correcting mechanism.

White dwarfs, on the other hand, are missing a link in the above chain: an increase in temperature doesn’t cause an increase in pressure. This is because white dwarves are prevented from collapse not by conventional ideal-gas pressure but by electron degeneracy pressure, which depends only on the density of the gas and not its temperature. Smaller stars don’t get hot enough to ignite the carbon in their cores before the electron degeneracy pressure takes over, and form white dwarves instead; but a larger star can ignite its carbon without using electron degeneracy to support itself, turning into a red giant instead.

You might get a significant amount of hydrogen fusion via the CNO cycle, actually — that is, if your cloud o’ sugar lasts long enough before blowing itself apart. This might also be of help in getting a certain proportion of nitrogen into your system, although there’s not an obvious way of getting said nitrogen from the Totstar to the surface of Totworld.

This thread is really really great.

Makes me remember why I love this place and continue to pay for my membership.

AmalgramFour - you should definitely join. You’ll fit right in :slight_smile:

Welcome, AmalgramFour!

I believe Stanislaw Lem dealt with the excessive-bolide problem in one of his stories: the inhabitants of a planet afflicted with the condiftion known as ‘the whackers’ (frequent severe meteorite impacts) had inflatable buildings that could be replaced in minutes, and maintained ‘spares’ (clones) of themselves, to which their consciousnesses could be transferred immediately if they were hit and killed by a meteorite.

Obviously, the inflatable buildings would be even easier in a solar system composed of jelly. :slight_smile:

I am also concerned about the lack of silicon and iron, however. Would a sugar planet develop continents of hard sugar? Whould there be magma of caramel? Oceans? What would the core be like? Would it stratify or differentiate?

You’d also have to worry about the oceans fermenting and turning into alcohol.

Although I’m not sure “worry” is the proper word to use here…

Can anyone tell me what the star would taste like when it burned out?

Ever toasted a marshmallow a bit too much, and ended up with a molten blackened mess… which still tasted pretty good once you let it cool off? Kinda like that.

Invite me to that there Marshmallow Restaurant at the End of the Universe!

You’re right, my explanation is only valid if there is no fusion underway in the star, and no radiation pressure to prevent it from collapsing to the dimensions of a white dwarf. From your explanation of the CNO cycle it seems likely that we’d get some fusion well before reaching this point, giving us a dim star. So if we kept piling on more mass we might be able to reach the point where carbon burning is initiated.

Thanks, glad you’re enjoying it.