What If Pluto Suddenly Appeared On Top of Australia?
One of my favorite ways to waste time on Google is to look up images of different planets next to our own to show their comparative sizes (Jupiter is SO HUGE guys!) – and one of my favorite things about Reddit is how they always manage to turn these images into a detailed discussion of the horrific destruction that would take place if that planet somehow magically appeared next to Earth.
This picture appeared on Reddit today, superimposing the new high-res image of Pluto over Australia. As you can see, the dwarf planet fits comfortably within the southern continent’s borders.
The good people of Reddit immediately went into destruction mode, starting with user Xet:
Incidentally, if Pluto were to just suddenly ‘appear’ resting on the planet’s surface like this, with an initial velocity of 0, what would happen?
The responses are detailed and morbidly entertaining, if potentially scientifically dubious, but who cares about that. Redditor tfburns speculated:
Assuming you just magicked Pluto above Australia like in the picture, I’d predict that the ice would crack and crumble down over the hot continent, with the fine ice particles melting and the large shards wreaking havoc. The rocky core might form a new Uluru, but I don’t think many people would be able to see it in a great hurry as there would be earthquakes and volcano eruptions (caused by the impact) and flooding (caused by the melting ice), not to mention the crushing and destruction of a large part (or all?) of Australia. Gee … I really wish this image was of another continent now as I’m Australian!
plorraine imagined more of a “Pluto crumbles into gigantic boulders falling from the sky” scenario:
Pluto is about 1500 miles in diameter – the “average” distance of Pluto from the surface is 750 miles. Pluto would fairly promptly fall apart and fall towards the Earth’s surface and deliver energy equivalent to a planet size mass falling from 750 miles. In addition, the point of contact would be under enormous force and deformation of the earth’s crust would be substantial – extending down a few hundred miles at least. This would be catastrophic – not as catastrophic as having Pluto collide with Earth at orbital velocities but way above that required to destroy everything.
And the obvious joke from DrAtomic1:
The answer is stunningly easy though… The Aussies wouldn’t notice or in a best case scenario claim Uluru (Ayers Rock) grew.
Redditor support44 provided this YouTube video: