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Thread: Impact fusion

  1. #1
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    Impact fusion

    Could an interstellar asteroid (like 'Oumaumau) travel fast enough to cause fusion if impacting on hydrogen atmosphere or frozen surface?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Mazanec View Post
    Could an interstellar asteroid (like 'Oumaumau) travel fast enough to cause fusion if impacting on hydrogen atmosphere or frozen surface?
    Tom, not unless you have supernatural powers to crank up the velocity. Fusion depends on 3 things, time, temperature, and particle density. Attempts to do a version of your own baby Sun to heat your morning cup of coffee and shower water have been either inertial or magnetic confinement. The Tokamaks have gradually improved their designs for squeezing hot plasmas, but are not at commercial stages yet.
    Inertial confinement relied on blasting a pellet of fuel, and heating it with lasers, to appropriate temps before it could escape, also not commercial ( we wouldn't be testing directed energy weapons here, would we?).
    So, your asteroid would have to be travelling at relativistic velocity to initiate temps necessary for ignition. Not likely. It is believed stellar ignition of a proto star is muon catalyzed as they can persist, penetrating matter easily, catalyze dozens of fusions, and a flood of them might occur from GRBs, or a nearby supernova.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by trinitree88 View Post
    Tom, not unless you have supernatural powers to crank up the velocity. Fusion depends on 3 things, time, temperature, and particle density. Attempts to do a version of your own baby Sun to heat your morning cup of coffee and shower water have been either inertial or magnetic confinement. The Tokamaks have gradually improved their designs for squeezing hot plasmas, but are not at commercial stages yet.
    Inertial confinement relied on blasting a pellet of fuel, and heating it with lasers, to appropriate temps before it could escape, also not commercial ( we wouldn't be testing directed energy weapons here, would we?).
    So, your asteroid would have to be travelling at relativistic velocity to initiate temps necessary for ignition. Not likely. It is believed stellar ignition of a proto star is muon catalyzed as they can persist, penetrating matter easily, catalyze dozens of fusions, and a flood of them might occur from GRBs, or a nearby supernova.
    Er, what? Muons don't live long enough to survive a trip across interstellar space, would not penetrate to the core of a protostar if they did, and are not necessary to start fusion in a protostar...the rising temperatures and pressure from the collapse will do that just fine. For that matter, if such muons existed and had a significant effect on the evolution of protostars, every supernova would cause major disruptions in the stars around it.

    Tom: Fusion of ordinary hydrogen takes place very slowly. The core of the sun burns hydrogen at a rate that gives it a power density roughly equivalent to a compost heap. Larger stars burn hydrogen faster through a catalytic reaction with carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen. An impactor might cause a small amount of fusion (directly by impact or indirectly by induced lightning, etc), but not enough to make any difference to the energy output.

  4. #4
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    So are we saying that a 55 gallon drum of deuterium or a couple of tons of refined lithium isotopes directly under the impact area would have negligible effect to the over all output? (Or a 55 gallon lithium drum filled with deuterium!)

    Tom didn't say we couldn't gimmick the test to get results!
    Time wasted having fun is not time wasted - Lennon
    (John, not the other one.)

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