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Haroot's avatar

If Earth broke apart several large chunks, could life continue on said chunks?

Asked by Haroot (2113 points ) November 19th, 2009

So I recently learned about the theories of the moon’s origin. One being that a Mars like body named Theia impacted Earth, causing pieces off Earth to break off. One of which became the moon.

But this was before we were around. So if we had a repeat and a populated piece of Earth broken off and was thrown into orbit, if some were to survive the initial impact, would they be able to continue life on their newly formed home?

And if no, would there be any way to make it habitable?

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33 Answers

ubersiren's avatar

I would imagine we would all fly off from the impact and the being out of orbit, and if there were any survivors at that point, they would suffocate in space. But, if the chunk somehow found its way back into orbit and kept the same distance from the sun, then perhaps life could start over; I doubt there would be any human life left.

kheredia's avatar

It depends on how far off the pieces of earth strayed from the sun. I’m no scientist but I think there are a lot more factors to consider. Things like oxygen and water. We depend greatly on the sun and these other things. Without them we would not survive.

oratio's avatar

Nothing would survive the impact. There would be chunks of planet thrown out in space possibly containing bacteria. The planet would reform, and possibly – even likely – life would start over.

drdoombot's avatar

I think you need a mass of a certain size so that the gravity can hold enough lighter gases to have an atmosphere. The Moon, for example, is too small to have an atmosphere. If those chunks of Earth are too small, the people that weren’t killed by the impact will burn up without an atmosphere or magnetic field to protect them from the Sun. Or suffocate.

Haroot's avatar

Okay yeah, the air issue and the atmosphere are what I though would be major problems. You all just kind of confirmed it.

oratio's avatar

@Haroot The planet will not break up in little pieces. There will still be a planet, though everything on it will burn and vaporize.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

The smaller chunks might not be able to hold an atmosphere.

filmfann's avatar

When that happened, the Earth was molten. An impact like that would be catastrophic.
But let’s say it wasn’t, just for laughs. The atmosphere of the Earth would have to cover the new areas, and would thin out worldwide. Life may be impossible above 3000 ft.
But that’s all silly speculation. None of this will happen until the AntiChrist (whom Nostrodamas refered to as Nilap Haras) is revealed

Fred931's avatar

@oratio‘s comment, not Oratio; Ever seen Armageddon?

missingbite's avatar

Two words. Gravitational pull.

oratio's avatar

@filmfann lol. Nilap Haras. Funny man.

@Fred931 Yup, Texas tried to ram our planet.

Fred931's avatar

@oratio Alas, it was not the great state of Texas, but in fact its evil twin, Saxet.

oratio's avatar

@Fred931 One would have thought it might have been Aksala. It is even harder to see Aissur from Saxet.

faye's avatar

Your question could turn into a great sci-fi movie- we could suspend some of the need for truth.

Haroot's avatar

@faye Yeah that’s what I’m trying to make out of this. A probably false, but rather plausible way for humans to exist on said orbital.

Shuttle128's avatar

An acceleration large enough to knock a substantial chunk of Earth off would kill just about every living thing. The small insects and microscopic organisms might survive the initial acceleration…..but not much else.

If we were to survive the acceleration the mass of the chunk would most likely be too small to sustain an atmosphere.

If humans were to somehow survive both of these the sun’s radiation would surely do them in quickly. Since the dynamo of the core and it’s magnetic field would be gone there is nothing to protect the chunk from radiation.

oratio's avatar

@Haroot It is a fun thought though. The people on the rock going “Ok. Now what?”.

Shuttle128's avatar

I’d imagine it to be a rather short story about the last few moments on a sliver of planet quickly losing atmosphere and cooking under the unshielded sun.

It’d make for a good, but rather sad, short story.

I read a (sort of) similar short story (but it involved the end of the Universe). Now I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it or where I read it.

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

@oratio and the second sentence would be, “quick someone get the weiners, Look, Dave’s on fire!”

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

@oratio no, not Letterman, just an ordinary Dave.

oratio's avatar

@Psychedelic_Zebra Whoo, what a relief. Just as well, we all know regular Dave got it coming.

Haroot's avatar

@Shuttle128 If you ever figure out what it is, please let us know.

I’ve been recently playing the Red Faction video game series, based on Mars. Trying to figure out how they dealt with the air and atmosphere issues.

Shuttle128's avatar

@Haroot Just finished the newest one myself and was wondering the same thing throughout.

Actually, the story was specifically about how the end of the Universe was being dealt with when everyone was expecting the Big Rip to happen (they were seeing the stars go out). I’m almost certain the name of it was “Good Bye” or something like that but I can’t seem to find it.

AstroChuck's avatar

No. How are you going to live without an atmosphere?

Dr_C's avatar

@AstroChuck depends.. how long can you hold your breath?

AstroChuck's avatar

It’s not just your breath. How are you going to keep your blood from boiling and your body from bursting?

Shuttle128's avatar

Aha! Found it.

It’s called Last Contact by Stephen Baxter. I was nominated for a Hugo Award for “Best Short Story” last year.

That whole blood boiling thing is sort of an urban legend.

Dr_C's avatar

@AstroChuck easy… I’m protected by an impenetrable force-field of awesome.

Haroot's avatar

@Shuttle128 Great! Thanks. Now I got something to read this holiday break.

boffin's avatar

Possibly…But not as we know it…

mattbrowne's avatar

Life could continue once we know how to setup habitats on the moon, Mars and so forth.

ruthfluther's avatar

The answer would be yes,as long as California broke away by itself.

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