Feeds

Boffins: We are VAPORISING the Earth... for science

Supervillainesque move helps them learn about super-earths

New hybrid storage solutions

A group of scientists have been practising blowing the Earth into smithereens.

Planet imploding

Whooooooooomph.... BOOM!

The astroboffins, who claim they are doing it for scientific reasons, have used a computer simulation to vaporise our home planet.

"We scientists are not content just to talk about vaporising the Earth," Bruce Fegley, professor of earth and planetary sciences at Washington University said from his secret lair. "We want to understand exactly what it would be like if it happened."

The researchers are running the simulations to see what conditions on super-earth planets in the universe are like.

Super-earths are rock worlds between the size of Earth and Neptune and because of the transit method boffins use to find them, they're often orbiting close to their fiery-hot stars.

The transit method of spotting planets watches the light of stars in the universe for the passing of their orbiting worlds and then uses that light to figure out the composition of those worlds' atmosphere.

Other techniques can also tell scientists the density of a planet, but with rocky planets, the amount of different elements that can add up to the same density makes definitive answers hard to find.

Exposing the Earth to the same heat as a rocky world close to its star, the researchers hoped to figure out what astronomers should see in the atmospheres of super-earths so they can figure out their composition.

The boffins turned up the heat on two models of Earth, one regular and one that was like the Earth before the continental crust formed. They blasted the planets with temperatures ranging from 270°C to 1,700°C, much, much higher than our planet's average 15°C.

"The vapour pressure of the liquid rock increases as you heat it, just as the vapour pressure of water increases as you bring a pot to boil," Fegley said. "Ultimately this puts all the constituents of the rock into the atmosphere."

So that's good and sciency, but what about when the Earth was completely vaporised?

"You're left with a big ball of steaming gas that's knocking you on the head with pebbles and droplets of liquid iron," he said. "But we didn't put that into the paper because the exoplanets the astronomers are finding are only partially vaporised." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Chelyabinsk-sized SURPRISE asteroid to skim Earth, satnav birds
Space rock appears out of nowhere, buzzes planet on Sunday
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Square Kilometre Array reveals its 1.6TB-a-day storage and network rigs
Boolardy Engineering Test Array - aka BETA - is about to come out of Beta
LOHAN invites ENTIRE REG READERSHIP to New Mexico shindig
Well, those of you who back our Kickstarter tin-rattling...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.