I think that Khan is a lying piece of garbage. On Ceti Alpha V, there was life. There was a chance. The notion that Ceti Alpha VI exploded and somehow shifted the orbit of Ceti Alpha V destroying virtually all life is simply impossible.
Astrophysics simply do not bear out Khan’s claim.
First of all, planets do not just explode. While some planets have boiling hot cores, this is not enough to cause a planet to shatter let alone suddenly explode. As far as astronomers know, there is no internal mechanism or other phenomenon that could ever cause a planet to fly apart. Planets are stable and causing one to explode would require some chemical or nuclear process which can provide an explosive punch of energy.
For example, to detonate the Earth, a ball of uranium with a diameter of some three miles at the core would be required. While it is impossible to kick-start a fusion reaction at a planet’s core, uranium fission is possible provided no neutrons are absorbed. Of course, in the case of our Earth, dissembling its structure against its own gravitational binding energy would be difficult since its interior is teeming with neutrons which would stop fission in its tracks. Additionally natural processes alone would not be able to create such a pure and concentrated ball of uranium.
Second, a concussive shockwave from an exploding planet generally requires some kind of medium to travel through. A shock wave is a type of propagating disturbance. Like an ordinary wave, it carries energy and can propagate through a medium (solid, liquid, gas or plasma) or in some cases in the absence of a material medium, through a field such as the electromagnetic field. Shock waves are characterized by an abrupt, nearly discontinuous change in the characteristics of the medium. Across a shock there is always an extremely rapid rise in pressure, temperature and density of the flow. In supersonic flows, expansion is achieved through an expansion fan. A shock wave travels through most media at a higher speed than an ordinary wave.
Unlike solitons (another kind of nonlinear wave), the energy of a shock wave dissipates relatively quickly with distance. Also, the accompanying expansion wave approaches and eventually merges with the shock wave, partially cancelling it out. Thus the sonic boom associated with the passage of a supersonic aircraft is the sound wave resulting from the degradation and merging of the shock wave and the expansion wave produced by the aircraft. When a shock wave passes through matter, the total energy is preserved but the energy which can be extracted as work decreases and the entropy increases. This, for example, creates additional drag force on aircraft with shocks. So, the energy from any such shock wave would have dissipated as entropy increased while transiting across the Ceti Alpha star system.
Shock waves in stellar environments, such as shocks inside a core collapse supernova explosion often become radiation mediated shocks. Such shocks are formed by photons colliding with the electrons of the matter, and the downstream of these shocks is dominated by radiation energy density rather than thermal energy of matter. However, these interstellar shock waves require an extraordinary amount of energy such as would only be found in a collapsing stellar body - not an exploding planet.
Moreover, the shockwave from an exploding planet could not shift the orbit of another planet. One impulse event is simply not enough. For example, one could use a bunch of asteroidal collisions, carefully timed, to migrate a planet from its orbit but the amount of energy required is mind-bogglingly large. As an example, Venus masses 0.815 Earth’s mass of 5.9722E+24 kg. To move a planet from one orbit to another requires a velocity change equal to the difference in orbital speeds between the two. In this case that’s ~11 km/s and so 60.5 MJ/kg of kinetic energy has to be added to Venus by all those asteroids. Total energy = (0.815 x 5.9722E+24 kg x 60.5E+6 J/kg) = 2.945E+32 J. That’s amounts to 8.86 Earth days’ worth of the Sun’s total energy output.
Finally, the distance required to move a planet to destroy a significant portion of its biomass is enormous. The habitable zone is the region around a star in which water will be liquid at the surface of a planet. The habitable zone around the Sun is about 0.95 AU to 1.37 AU. An AU is the Earth’s average distance from the Sun, 93 million miles, so the Earth’s orbit could decrease by 4,500,000 miles or increase by 34,000,000 miles and still be in the habitable zone.
Simply put, Khan and the rest of the crew of the USS Botany Bay were NOT on Ceti Alpha V. His “exploding Ceti Alpha VI” story is a bunch of hogwash.
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