Thursday’s Thirteen: How to Destroy a Planet

I’m still polishing up my manuscript and got my critiques back on my free read that I’ll be posting soon. And low and behold my critique partner (who write SF) told me that I need to come up with a better reason for my Arcon planet to be destroyed.

In my own defense, I have a tendency do the research as I go along. Hey, even Steven King said (On Writing) he doesn’t let research slow him down, he writes the story, and then does the research later.

So I decided it was past time to fix that little problem.

Here are thirteen ways to destroy a planet:

1. Alderaan was destroyed by the Death Star on Star Wars and the only thing left was a nice little meteor shower. Neat and clean. According to Dr. Michio Kaku it is entirely possible to destroy a planet this way. You’d have to have a lot of H-bombs loaded in to do it though.  Then hit the planet with one after another until it’s blows up.

2. On Star Trek they had this huge thing that swallowed planets whole, a dooms day weapon, Krenim temporal incursion ship, General Order 24. Starfleet order for a starship to destroy all life on an entire planet, Planetcracker weapons and sunkiller bombs,Reman warbird Scimitar: Emits a specific type of radiation that will kill every living thing on a planet in seconds,Son’a collector (intended to strip radiation surrounding a planet thus rendering it uninhabitable),The Crystalline Entity that would feed by stripping planets of all organic life, The Xindi superweapon, Tox Uthat (A weapon from the future that would stop all fusion operations in a sun),Trilithium torpedo. Used by Dr. Tolian Soran in Star Trek Generations to stop all the fusion reactions in a star, causing it to go nova, much like the Tox Uthat, Nomad. A small spacecraft resulting from the combination of two unrelated craft that was able to “sterilize” entire planetary populations (The Changeling). And on and on.

3. Doctor Who, the Daleks and TARDISes have both been shown to be capable of moving planets, and would thus be capable of relocating a planet into a star, nova, black hole, or other inhospitable location that would destroy it.

4. Men in Black II had the evil Serlena who’s ship is seen making vengeful blasts on searched planets, causing an icy one to shatter and another to implode.

5. in Farscape is that the knowledge of wormholes contained in the head of John Crichton can be used to create a planet-killing weapon; in Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars Crichton finally builds and activates such a weapon to show that it is much worse; it is in fact a galaxy-killer. Under threat of everyone being consumed by the weapon, he convinces the Peacekeepers and Scarrans to pursue peace negotiations in return for him turning it off.

6. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Vogon civil services are not only able to demolish entire planets, but have means and cause to do so regularly (to create and maintain hyperspace by-passes). The Earth falls victim to one such fleet in the beginning of the story to make way for a hyperspace expressway.

However since I don’t have any evil villainous aliens that destroyed my Arcon’s planet that’s out of the question. So that leaves a natural phenomenon.

7. An asteroid would kill off all the inhabitants of a planet,  like Armageddon. That’s what killed off the dinosaurs. However, it wouldn’t destroy the planet. But my Arcons are a space faring race, wouldn’t they just hop into their spaceships and destroy that asteroid?

8. A rogue planet (orphan planet) that had been eject from it solar system might destroy a planet. In the early development of our solar system the Earth was hit by a rough planet. That’s why our world had a molten mental core. But the Earth wasn’t destroyed, it was remade. Gravity has this funny way of pulling a planet back together again.

9. A comet like in Deep Impact could kill off everyone on my planet, but again it wouldn’t destroy my planet.

No, I need something bigger and meaner.

10. The sun is big and with  about 109 times that of Earth, and its mass (about 2×1030 kilograms, 330,000 times that of Earth) accounts for about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System. Chemically, about three quarters of the Sun’s mass consists of hydrogen, while the rest is mostly helium. The Sun’s hot corona continuously expands in space creating the solar wind, a stream of charged particles that extends to the heliopause at roughly 100 astronomical units. The bubble in the interstellar medium formed by the solar wind, the heliosphere, is the largest continuous structure in the Solar System.

But a normal sun is only as dangerous as it solar flares.

11. A quark-nova is a hypothetical type of supernova that could occur if a neutron star spontaneously collapsed to become a quark star.  When a neutron star spins down, it could convert to a quark star through a process known as quark deconfinement. The resultant star would have quark matter in its interior. The process would release immense amounts of energy, perhaps explaining the most energetic explosions in the universeQuark-novae may be one cause of gamma ray bursts. Rapidly spinning neutron stars with masses between 1.5 and 1.8 solar masses are theoretically the best candidates for conversion due to spin down of the star within a Hubble time. This amounts to a small fraction of the projected neutron star population. A conservative estimate based on this indicates that up to two quark-novae may occur in the observable universe each day.

Theoretically, quark stars would be radio-quiet, so radio-quiet neutron stars may be quark stars.

But they maybe too quiet and the Arcons wouldn’t know that the darn ray was heading their way.

12. A super nova would be powerful enough to destroy a planet, and my Arcon would see that coming with time enough to build their big spaceships.

But I don’t really need the Arcon’s sun to go super nova. 

13. A near-Earth supernova is a supernova close enough to the Earth to have noticeable effects on its biosphere. Depending upon the type and energy of the supernova, it could be as far as 3000 light-years away. Gamma rays from a supernova would induce a chemical reaction in the upper atmosphere converting molecular nitrogen into nitrogen oxides, depleting the ozone layerenough to expose the surface to harmful solar and cosmic radiation. This has been proposed as the cause of the Ordovician–Silurian extinction, which resulted in the death of nearly 60% of the oceanic life on Earth.

Here’s my Ah-ha moment—If I gave the Arcons an unstable sun with continuous solar storms, solar flares and then a super solar event–that would do a great deal of damage to their planet.

And could ultimately destroy it.

Exodus Arcon Trailer

13 comments on “Thursday’s Thirteen: How to Destroy a Planet

  1. Second attempt (kicked out because I “forgot” my password!!!)
    Lots of fantastic research here – must have taken AGES but I’m sure you had a lot of fun doing it!
    At the moment I’m writing what I HOPE will be the final chapter of a novel about Global Warming. In it I’ve used a version o the H-bomb scenario you mention, but with a “twist” which actually leads to a POSITIVE outcome and ultimately SAVES our li’l ole planet … 🙂


  2. What an awesome list! I’ll definitely come back to it when I need to blow up one of my colonies, maybe in a later book! Thanks, Janice, and good luck & fun with your book! 😀


Comments are closed.