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ocasey3
2003-Jun-06, 01:01 AM
If something were to happen to Mercury, such as being destroyed, how would it affect Earth? Or would it at all? Thanks in advance.

DStahl
2003-Jun-06, 01:06 AM
I don't think there would be any effect at all on Earth. The only scenario I can think of is if Mercury were somehow boosted out of orbit and came close enough to the Earth-Moon system to disrupt their orbits. Mercury could disappear in a flash of green light, spiral inward and fall into the Sun, or spiral outward and be lost into interstellar space and I don't think Earth or the Sun would be affected one bit.

[afterthought] Oh, if Mercury were pulverized and the bits 'n pieces scattered into an orbit which intersects Earth's orbit, we could get killer impacts from huge bits of ex-Mercury. That would be a Bad Thing.

But contrary to what Veliskovsky and Von Daniken think, planets just don't seem to explode or go zooming out of their orbits for no reason. And physics doesn't seem to offer any reason for such behavior either.

kilopi
2003-Jun-06, 01:08 AM
Depends upon how it was destroyed, I guess. If it just suddenly fell apart, I can't see it would effect us at all, except I'd miss being able to catch a glimpse of it now and then. OTOH, if it launched itself at the Earth somehow and was destroyed by the collision, yes, I think that'd hurt.

ocasey3
2003-Jun-06, 01:16 AM
Thanks again, the reason I asked is because the loons on Godlike keep talking about how Mercury has disappeared (I know better) and I had a nagging question about it. So, the Earth's orbit would not neccessarily be affected in any way. Wasn't sure.

BigJim
2003-Jun-06, 01:19 AM
No. I can't think of a plausible situation in which the destruction of any planet, certainly the inferior planets anyway, would threaten Earth. If it vanished, the gravitatational effect is infintesimal anyway, and if it exploded, the debris would just orbit in Mercury's orbit, or spiral toward the Sun. Maybe if Mars exploded, it would be different, since the debris could conceivably spiral towards the Sun and hit us.

ocasey3
2003-Jun-06, 01:23 AM
Here's another question. If Mercury was destroyed, say by some huge asteroid like object (please play along :D ) , could the debris form an asteroid belt or would the gravitational pull from the sun pull it in?

Grey
2003-Jun-06, 01:30 AM
Here's another question. If Mercury was destroyed, say by some huge asteroid like object (please play along :D ) , could the debris form an asteroid belt or would the gravitational pull from the sun pull it in?
Alright, I'll play along. :D The debris could form an asteroid belt in theory. Mercury is in free fall around the sun, and if you break it up into little pieces, they'll all still be in free fall in exactly the same orbit. Of course, if it explodes, some pieces will be moving at slightly different velocities, so some pieces could move slightly further out and others might move slightly further in.

DStahl
2003-Jun-06, 03:24 AM
ocasey3, as you know the idea that a planet could just disappear is silly. These guys don't know much about astronomy. In the cosmological short term, ie millions of years, the Sun and the Solar System are damned stable. Mercury cannot simply jump out of its orbit or vanish in a pouf of dust; the Sun physically cannot expand to a red giant, collapse to a white dwarf, or go nova; Jupiter cannot come careening into the inner Solar System on a whim.

It would be far more likely that one of these fellows could derail a speeding train by slapping it with his hand than the immensely powerful solar and planetary processes they're talking about could be derailed by any trivial event. Mercury's mass is about the same as 1,568,373,298,769 locomotives (using a locomotive that weighs 462,900 lbs as a benchmark). When these nuts figure out how to make 1,568,373,298,769 locomotives disappear, or when they can figure out how to deflect 1,568,373,298,769 locomotives which are all moving at 107,280 miles per hour (Mercury's average orbital velocity)...THEN they will deserve to be taken seriously.

You can quote that to them if you want, just put my moniker-- DStahl -- on it. ;)

ocasey3
2003-Jun-06, 11:43 AM
You see, that's why I hang around this board, I learn something new every day. You're right, I know planets just don't disappear and neither do they just stop rotating or go off course, I just wanted to know hypothetically. I really need to take an astronomy course one of these days.

But I did get to see Mars early this morning, as we finally had clear skies, and it is awesome. So big, wish I had a decent telescope. Isn't it amazing just how incredilbe the real planets are.

Chip
2003-Jun-07, 02:13 AM
...I did get to see Mars early this morning, as we finally had clear skies, and it is awesome. So big, wish I had a decent telescope. Isn't it amazing just how incredible the real planets are.

If you're not yet in the market for a nice telescope, check out your local astronomy club in Detroit. They're probably having some Mars observing open to the public, and you'll also get to see it through different kinds of scopes. This is a special time to view the red planet as its closest to Earth! :wink:

Also, with regards to little Mercury, if something somehow pushed it out of its present orbit, and if it moved into a very eccentric orbit, swinging through the solar system, along a path similar to comets, then (maybe) over time, it would slightly perturb the other planets in their orbits. To what degree would depend on how repeatedly close it came to various planets over many repeated orbits.