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Thread: A crazy question [Glass-marble planet possible?]

  1. #1
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    A crazy question [Glass-marble planet possible?]

    Could there be a marble planet?

    Is it possible that a desert planet -- sand from pole to pole -- could be heated by its sun to turn the whole planet to liquid glass? Is it crazy to imagine a planet like this cooling and and becoming giant glass crusted world? Why or why not?

    I love the show.

    Clayton
    Toronto

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    Well sand isn't going to do it - I understand marble is better thought of as recrystalised limestone rather than recrystalised sand (glass).

    Then you have the whole issue of - if the Sun's hot enough to melt the 'sand' - when is it going to stop being hot enough to let it recrystalise - without sundry other geological processes taking precedence.

    And then there's the issue of - it's not just igneous (molten rock that's cooled) but metamorphic rock - being isolated areas of molten rock that's been compressed under tons of geological sedimentation and history.

    So the whole planetary marble idea looks a bit implausible.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by CR1000 View Post
    Could there be a marble planet?

    Is it possible that a desert planet -- sand from pole to pole -- could be heated by its sun to turn the whole planet to liquid glass? Is it crazy to imagine a planet like this cooling and and becoming giant glass crusted world? Why or why not?

    I love the show.

    Clayton
    Toronto
    By "marble planet", do you mean the metamorphic limestone we call marble, or a giant version of the glass balls we commonly call marbles?

    Perhaps a star could melt sand and other stuff on a planet when it goes through the red giant stage, and then let the planet solidify during the subsequent white-dwarf cooldown.

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    I'm sure he means marble as in the marbles that you play with.

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    Ok, "marble" was a poor word choice. I was using the word as a metaphor for a glass (or glass crusted) planet. I'll be less ambiguous next time.

    I was wondering if it is just a silly idea or if it is possible given the amount of stars and planets that are out there.
    I'm student with a layman's interest in astronomy, and a love for science and skepticism.

    I admit I have only a general understanding of the basics of astronomy (just finished reading Death from the Skies and am listening to Astronomy Cast). So thanks for your input. First time posting, feel free to tear me to shreds.. toughen me up a bit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CR1000 View Post
    First time posting, feel free to tear me to shreds.. toughen me up a bit.
    Alright, here it comes... are you ready? Are you sitting down? Holding on to something? Yes?

    Welcome to BAUT, CR1000
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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by CR1000 View Post
    Could there be a marble planet?

    Is it possible that a desert planet -- sand from pole to pole -- could be heated by its sun to turn the whole planet to liquid glass? Is it crazy to imagine a planet like this cooling and and becoming giant glass crusted world? Why or why not?

    I love the show.

    Clayton
    Toronto
    If it knows no life, then why the question. So many planets are barren of life, we seek the ones that are not. There are many planets out there incapable of supporting any kind of life, even bacteria. And there are planets where life and intelligence could evolve, would suggest you focus on those. Nokton

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    Quote Originally Posted by CR1000 View Post
    Is it possible that a desert planet -- sand from pole to pole -- could be heated by its sun to turn the whole planet to liquid glass? Is it crazy to imagine a planet like this cooling and and becoming giant glass crusted world?
    If it was all sand, wouldn't it be what you describe -- though not by the mechanism.

    Sand would start as mostly silica, silicon dioxide, quartz, probably melted in planet formation or by residual heat, cooled, and eroded into particles.

    There. It's glass crusted, much like Earth's crust -- or about 75% of it. Even if the crust has subsequently eroded some, into sand particles. What you seek?

    (Other ceramic minerals are present in the crust. I doubt any rocky planet surface could be pure silica. The universe is a dirty place.)

    So, would the source of the heat, or the amount of subsequent erosion, make a difference in the result you seek? Would a "glass marble planet" only come from star-melted glass that is cooled to solid and also monolithic and not eroded?

    Maybe check out Earth after the Sun's red-giant phase -- if it's still here.

    My imagination is exhausted. Calling the geologists.

    (Advice about titles: don't just call your topic some kind of question. Too many people already don't communicate the topic in their titles. Draw knowledgeable eyeballs, and communicate your content. Glass marble planet? or Solid glass crust would have made better titles.)
    0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 ...

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    An entire planetary surface of good-quality glass is not likely...there's certain to be lots of various other sorts of mineral gunk of the sort that formed the bulk of Earth's crust. Aside from that...if glass is held far enough over its melting point and cooled slowly enough, it crystalizes and forms a silicate ceramic. The scales involved in casting a glass planet would probably lead to this. And even at much smaller scales, uneven cooling will lead to cracking...you're likely to end up with glass sand and gravel rather than a contiguous glass surface.

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    I would think that a glass asteroid would be far more likely than a glass planet.

    If it moves in a very elliptical orbit, how close would have to get to the sun for the surface to start melting?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Jubjub View Post
    I would think that a glass asteroid would be far more likely than a glass planet.

    If it moves in a very elliptical orbit, how close would have to get to the sun for the surface to start melting?
    Well, what about having Mercury on a more eccentric orbit?

    Such that at perihelion, the rocks on surface melt, and cool back at aphelion?

    Since Mercury has modest internal hermeological activity, there would be little to cause new relief. Old craters and impact basins would be slowly smoothed out and faded as the molten surface rock flows down slopes and smooths everything out, each year...

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    Glass is an amorph substance without crystals.Granite I think is fully crystals . Obsidian with the same chemical composition is a naturally occurring glass from volcanoes. It is metastable ,It slowly crystalise and so there is not very old obsidian on Earth.
    For making glass what you need a rather fast cooling so I cannot see how it can occurs for a Whole planet.

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    Wink stoichiometric glasses

    They do make a few stoichiometric glasses, and they've been around for a while, but as 01 says...it's a dirty world out there and it's unlikely that the purity conditions necessary would occur in space. see:http://sciencelinks.jp/j-east/articl...05A0258414.php
    pete

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    As a geologist I can give a resounding 'no' to a whole planet but a 'yes' to parts of the surface of a planet. Temperatures would be too variable for any universal heating and cooling and resulting pan-planet 'glass' surface.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Jubjub View Post
    I would think that a glass asteroid would be far more likely than a glass planet.
    A nice way to build a space habitat. Have some explosive or pressure vessel vent gas inside a molten blob. Then bead over with other materials alternating between water ice and other substances to have a layered mini-Death star. The water melts and you have concentric layers and a large hollow at the center.

    Cut it in half and you have a layer shielded dome to go atop a crater wall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Jubjub View Post
    I would think that a glass asteroid would be far more likely than a glass planet.
    I've heard that glass meteorite finds on Earth are not uncommon. If your glass planet is a premise for a story perhaps one of the characters could explain that the surface of broken glass is due to the planet getting battered in the early days of its system. Don't know if this is plausible or if plausibility would matter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CR1000 View Post
    Is it possible that a desert planet -- sand from pole to pole -- could be heated by its sun to turn the whole planet to liquid glass? Is it crazy to imagine a planet like this cooling and and becoming giant glass crusted world? Why or why not?
    Let me rephrase this, so that I can give an answer.
    Is it possible for a planet to be covered so that the surface is nothing but silicon dioxide dust or grains, and that it could go through a brief period of being heated high enough to melt the sand, but not enough to boil the sand, and that it will eventually cool off again so that there is a layer of glass (some meters, or perhaps even kilometers thick)?

    Answer: it is very implausible, but not strictly speaking totally impossible.
    Forming opinions as we speak

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    Quote Originally Posted by nokton View Post
    If it knows no life, then why the question. So many planets are barren of life, we seek the ones that are not. There are many planets out there incapable of supporting any kind of life, even bacteria. And there are planets where life and intelligence could evolve, would suggest you focus on those. Nokton
    Why should anybody be concerned only with life bearing planets?We haven't found any other than Earth yet and life is not the only thing beatiful or interesting in nature.
    Besides, it is his right to be interested in a different kind of science than you.

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    I think that would be pretty sweet to find a glass-marble planet!

    You know what else would be sweet? To find a giant asteroid-sized hunk of gold created in a super-nova explosion. There's gotta be tons of that stuff just floating around in space waiting for some lucky person to find it!!

    Rob

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    Suppose Mercury were to have perihelion 4 times closer than it now is. About 0,08 AU.

    Then the surface temperature at perihelion would be 2 times higher than it now is. Which would be about 1400 K, or 1100 Celsius. Hot enough to melt it into lava.

    Past the perihelion, the surface would be cooling pretty fast. The angular motion should be 8 times faster, the surface should cool from molten lava to solidification in a few days.

    Would the lava be crystalline, or would it solidify as obsidian-like class? Every time it is cooling, the first crystals to form would tend to sink to the bottom... so that the surface would be covered by the lowest-melting portion of the lava. Which composition?

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    I'm thinking that if a planet, or minor planet (planetoid, plutoid, ?) would get hot enough to melt and crystallize into a solid surface, any atmosphere would be quickly burned off. Without the atmosphere the planet would be then open to asteroid impacts so your nice smooth surface wouldn't be very smooth for very long.

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    What if this can happen during the red giant stage/white dwarf stage transition?Late solar systems - very little cratering by asteroids, meteorites and comets, most of the craters seen on airless bodies today is from the heavy bombardment by asteroids from 2-4 billion years ago - the planet be will extremely hot from the heat of its giant star, then the star will eject an envelope of diffuse gas that was once its outer layer (planetary nebula) and then it will be so cold that even methane will be frozen once the white dwarf settles.

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    More annoying questions from yours truly

    WOW! Thanks to everyone for your input! I never imagined that an idle thought on a Saturday afternoon would inspire such a lively response. I love the internet.

    I've gleaned form your responses that a glass (or partial glass) surface planet may be possible under the perfect conditions (which?), but is still extremely unlikely. Further, if glass (or a glass like substance) did form and cool on the planetary surface, it wouldn't remain intact for long as it would be fragile and liable to shatter in the extreme temperatures and environment.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewJ View Post
    I've heard that glass meteorite finds on Earth are not uncommon... could explain that the surface of broken glass is due to the planet getting battered in the early days of its system. Don't know if this is plausible or if plausibility would matter.
    I quite like this thought, though like Andrew, Im unsure if it is likely. Could it be that some glass meteorites are just the shattered fragments of a much larger (perhaps planetary) glass structure? Could there be giant glass asteroids floating aimlessly throughout the cosmos? Its a big old universe, is it crazy to think that these things could come to pass, given all that time and space?

    Forgive me for speaking in such broad generalizations. I know Im over-simplifying things. Plus I have a tenacious imagination and it takes a weekly smack-down to reality from the Skeptic's Guide to keep me in check. Thanks for your patience. You are saints and martyrs.

    Clayton

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    Quote Originally Posted by m1omg View Post
    What if this can happen during the red giant stage/white dwarf stage transition?Late solar systems - very little cratering by asteroids, meteorites and comets, most of the craters seen on airless bodies today is from the heavy bombardment by asteroids from 2-4 billion years ago - the planet be will extremely hot from the heat of its giant star, then the star will eject an envelope of diffuse gas that was once its outer layer (planetary nebula) and then it will be so cold that even methane will be frozen once the white dwarf settles.

    I also love this idea, (in fact, this is the model I first envisioned when I dreamt up the glass crusted planet idea). Is this scenario likely?

    CR

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    Quote Originally Posted by rommel543 View Post
    I'm thinking that if a planet, or minor planet (planetoid, plutoid, ?) would get hot enough to melt and crystallize into a solid surface, any atmosphere would be quickly burned off.
    Only for a minor planet. Hot Jupiters are massive enough to keep even hydrogen.

    Quote Originally Posted by rommel543 View Post
    Without the atmosphere the planet would be then open to asteroid impacts so your nice smooth surface wouldn't be very smooth for very long.
    Very long in which sense? I mean, glass windows of spaceships stay smooth for rather long.

    But there is another thing. If the planet is massive enough to keep a massive atmosphere, it would prevent the surface from melting through the brief perihelion passage.

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