SuperNova sun explosion debris?

If our sun were to go super nova and completely obliterate earth, and matter cannot be destroyed completely, what would the debris of our planet be like? What is the smallest particles earth would be blown into? Would it turn to gas, or what?

Also, what form would the sun’s debris take?

The Earth might break apart into asteroids. I’m not sure.

I’m pretty sure that when a star goes postal it just scatters its stuff out in a cloud. All non-Hydrogen matter comes from these explosions I believe.

The only way our sun goes supernova is if, after it becomes a white dwarf, it somehow hooks up with a red giant and starts siphoning off gas from its neighbor. Siphon too much and it goes <boom>. Otherwise it doesn’t have the required mass to go supernova. Now our sun will lose its outer layers in any event, but in a much less catastrophic way by simply having them (relatively) slowly drift away, forming a planetary nebula.

I think you mean all elements heavier than iron or nickel (these having the most tightly bound nuclei).

I’m not a astrophysicist, but I wouldn’t expect the Earth to be completely destroyed, even assuming we triple (or whatever) the size of the Sun so that it can go nova.

Atmosphere and Oceans blown off? Sure. Crust too? Much of it, maybe. Completely shattered into asteroids or whatever? Doesn’t sound right to me.

I’ll admit, though, I’m not even sure how to do a back-of-the-envelope on this.

Actually, while your point that elements heavier than iron are only produced in supernovae, the other is also true – all atoms heavier than helium (muxch of which is primordial, and I believe diffuses adequately within a main sequence star to be emitted in comparatively small quantities in stellar winds and planetary nebula-forming “puffs”, are ensconced in the cores of larger stars where they are produced, until such time as they go supernova, so technically the distribution throughout the universe of oxygen, carbon, silicon, nitrogen, argon, phosphorus, aluminum, and the rest is also the result of supernovae.

OK, the area of a spherical shell with radius equal to the radius of the Earth’s orbit is about 2E17 km^2, and the Earth’s cross-section is 1.3E8 km^2, so the Earth will intercept about 1 part in 2.2 billion of the explosion. The mass of the Sun is about 330,000 times that of the Earth. Assuming one solar mass is ejected, the mass the Earth will intercept is only 1/6600 of the Earth’s mass.

So I’m still thinking most of the Earth is left in one piece.

Even Mercury, which has (roughly) 1/3 the orbital radius, 1/4 the cross-section, and 1/20th the mass, only intercepts about 1/150th of its mass.

Well, according to Wikipedia, a Supernova releases on the order of 10^44 J of energy, so even if the Earth only intercepts 10^-9 of that, that’s still 10^35 J, which is a whole lot!

That’s like saying a bullet can’t hurt you because it only weighs 5 grams.

If the Earth intercepts 0.5 ppb of the energy (which it won’t do with 100% efficiency, but still…), that would be the equivalent of placing one Hiroshima-sized atomic bomb in every cubic meter of the Earth’s volume. Not on the surface – throughout the whole Earth.

Each cubic meter gets its very own atomic bomb.

The Earth would be no more. (For a sense of scale of these explosions, see, for instance, the Crab Nebula, which is an 11-light-year-across (and growing) supernova remnant.)

Every atom of every element in our bodies except the hydrogen (we are mostly hydrogen!) comes from dying stars. We are, as Carl Sagan used to say (Copernicus rest his soul), made of “star stuff”. Ain’t that neat? But so was Hitler.

I guess what I’m really asking is if the biggest catastrophic event possible happened to the sun, where it blows up with all the power of all of the H-bombs it’s supposed to have, what would happen to the planet Mercury, which is much closer. I’m just looking for what would be left after the worse case scenario and what form would it take? would it all be reduced to quarks, atoms, what?

Gotta love the surprise invocation of Godwin’s Law. :wink:

Hey, the moment moved me.

jakesteele, let me note, as John DiFool and ZenBeam did in their posts, that the sun can’t become a supernova. It’s not heavy enough. It will become a red giant in about five billion years:

Well, I’d prefer not to get too technical but the smallest particles are commonly referred to in the scientific community as, ‘itsy bitsy’.

Yeah, looking at the energy does make more sense than just how much mass is intercepted.

About 500 times the Earth’s gravitational binding energy, so it could be obliterated. Pasta’s bombs wouldn’t be distributed throughout the Earth, though, they’d all be on one side, so a lot of that energy would go into pushing the Earth outward from the Sun.

Right. Not enough mass for a Horrendous Space Kablooie. We’d get a half-assed expansion instead, which might break up the earth into half-assed-eroids.

Pfft. You clearly haven’t seen the World Astrophysical Congress’s latest report, in which the smallest particles are now designated “teensy weensy.” Do try to keep up.


That assumes the explosion is symmetrical, isn’t most of the energy beamed along the rotational axis of the progenitor star? Is that true of all supernovae, or just the most powerful ones?