Turning Jupiter into a Star
Heroic age was an anime first production by studio XEBEC that aired in 2007. Airing alongside the likes of Gurren Lagan and Gundam 00, during a period of waning popularity of giant robot shows, it didn’t get the biggest reception at the time. It was also an interesting mix of genres combining giant robots, action, psychological drama, Greek mythology, and the occasional technobabble. In other words, combine Neogenesis Evangelion, Dragon Ball Z, Space Battleship Yamato, Gundam, and the Iliad. However, the focus of today’s lesson will be on episode 12, where Jupiter is turned into a star. Heroic Age is not unique in turning Jupiter into a star, as Arthur C Clarke probably did it first in his novel 2010 Odyssey Two, and the harem comedy Vandread did a similar thing with a random gas giant.
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun, the first of the gas giants, and the largest planet in our solar system. When considering if Jupiter can become a star we have two main aspects to consider, its mass and its overall composition. Jupiter comes in at 1.8986×1027 kg or 317.8 Earths, and is composed of 89% hydrogen, 10% helium, and 1% of other substances. It also has an average density of 1.3 g/cm3.
OGLE-TR-122B is part of the binary system OGLE-TR-122 and it is the smallest star on record at 1.99 x 1029 kg. This makes it only 100 times bigger than Jupiter, which may not seem like much but it is still a very large amount. While there is no exact data on the stars composition, most stars in the Milky Way Galaxy are around 71% hydrogen, and 27% helium with other elements taking up the remaining 2%. The star’s temperature is also around 5,700 degrees Kelvin, with a density of 80 g/cm3.
Turning Jupiter into a star
Seeing as I’m no astrophysicist I am going to keep it simple. You need to get Jupiter’s mass up to the mass of OGLE-TR-122B. We can determine this with some simple subtraction.
Mass of OGLE-TR-122B – Mass of Jupiter
1.99 x 1029 kg – 1.8986×1027 kg……… Ok maybe this isn’t going to be so simple. First, we need to have both numbers to have the same power of ten.
199 x 1027 kg – 1.89 x 1027 kg = 197.11 x 1027 kg
In Heroic Age this was done by crashing one of the moons of Jupiter into the planet to increases its mass. The moon in question happens to be Io, with a mass of 8.93 x 1022 kg. While this would dramatically increase the mass of Jupiter, it’s still not quite enough to make Jupiter a star. It would create one heck of a massive explosion, however, which Heroic Age does a wonderful job animating.
But couldn’t the mass of Io be just enough to kick Jupiter over into being star?
No, not exactly as you need to consider the density and temperature of the object trying to be a star as well. If the object is not dense enough, it won’t have the gravity needed to generate the heat necessary for stellar formation.
The density of Jupiter is currently 1.3 g/cm3, and would need to be increased about 80 times to match the density of OGLE-TR-122B. There is currently no way to do this in the real world. However, in Heroic age the energy shields of the Silver Tribe do the trick or at least appear to. In one shot they are trying to contain the explosion of Io crashing into Jupiter and in the next Jupiter explodes. Theoretically this is the blast wave of Jupiter initiating nuclear fusion and becoming a star. Basically, in containing the explosion the Silver Tribe compressed the planet, increasing its density and temperature to the point that it became a star around 6,000 degrees Kelvin.
Impossible in the real world, but given the technology displayed in the show, I have to rate it as potentially plausible, even if it is highly unlikely. This is due to the show’s tackling the problems of mass, density, and temperature.
Vandread is an action comedy made by Studio Gonzo in 2000 that took the old phrase “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” and made an entire anime based around the concept. It’s certainly not the best anime around, but it is always good for a laugh if you like mecha action and harem comedy hijinks. The real reason for mentioning it here is that in one episode the heroes are stuck inside a gas giant and turn it into a star to escape. We are not given much detail on the gas giant, but given the visuals we can assume it is similar to Jupiter. In this case the pilots use carefully aimed lasers to heat the core of the planet to the point that stellar fusion can begin turning the planet into a star.
As previously discussed it takes a combination of mass, density, and temperature, for a star to be born. In Vandread all the main characters do is heat up the core of the planet, which might make for a really big thermonuclear bomb under the right conditions, but it would not be sustainable without enough mass and density to keep everything together. So in the case of Vandread, I have to call it busted.