What happens to Earth if Jupiter becomes a star?


Recently from one of our telegram subscribers

The question is very interesting, so we will try to figure out whether Jupiter can become a star and what will be the consequences of this?

For those who are unfamiliar with this book, I will explain: in it, the alien race turns Jupiter into a star in order to help life on Europe develop.

Very often in popular science sources, Jupiter is called a failed star, since this planet is rich in hydrogen and helium, like stars, but it did not have enough mass to start a fusion reaction in its core. However, this name is not entirely correct.

If we compare Jupiter with the Sun, then its mass is only about 0.1% of the mass of the Sun, but in nature there are stars and are much less massive than the Sun, the smallest possible mass of a star is 8% of the mass of the Sun. Failed stars are called brown dwarfs. This type of objects is intermediate between stars and planets.

Since the lower limit of the mass of a star, according to theoretical calculations, is about 80 masses of Jupiter, Jupiter never had the slightest chance of becoming a full-fledged star, because the temperature and pressure necessary for the start of thermonuclear reactions of the hydrogen cycle are not reached in its interior. He could not even trigger deuterium combustion reactions, which require a mass of 13 Jupiter masses. So he will not become a star himself.

The Galileo spacecraft, launched back in 1989, has been exploring Jupiter for eight years. NASA completed this mission, deliberately dropping the device onto the gas giant in order to finally study its atmosphere in more detail.

Then, many argued that the thermal reactor with plutonium, which powered the apparatus, could start a chain reaction, thus turning Jupiter into a star. This concern stems from the fact that plutonium is being used to detonate hydrogen bombs, and the gas giant’s atmosphere is rich in this element, and together they could start a fusion reaction. But this did not happen, and if it did, the reaction would be local and would not be able to become self-sustaining, and as a result it would quickly fade away.

Let’s theoretically assume that Jupiter has increased its mass 80 times and turned into a star. Unfortunately, we will not be able to see the second Sun from the Earth. This star will, of course, be much more massive than Jupiter, but its diameter will be only 20% larger than that of him, since the additional mass will increase not so much the volume of the star as its density. The brightness of the resulting red dwarf will reach a maximum of 0.3% solar.

Also, Jupiter is located at a distance of 588 to 967 million kilometers from the Earth, so even at its closest approach, it will be 5300 times fainter than the Sun. We won’t get much heat either. However, at night Jupiter will glow red and much brighter than the full moon.

Jupiter’s gravitational impact will be much greater than it is now. The new star will affect the Sun and the orbits of other planets, but this will not lead to chaos in the solar system.

Author: Alexey Nimchuk. Edited by Fedor Karasenko.

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