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Mike Radmore

retired

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Asteroid Strike against Earth: Would an explosion in space, even a nuclear one, behave as they do on Earth?

My understanding of the way explosions destroy things is that the explosive materials produce intense heat which heats up the surrounding air which expands and it is the resulting shockwave that does the damage.
My understanding of space is that there isn't any air.
So will any form of explosion in space be able to push an asteroid off its trajectory?

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    Sep 21 2011: Not all fires burn due to "air" - gas form of oxygen. Oxidizers can be pre-packaged into an explosive - e.g. gun bullets. Just drop some Lithium or Sodium or Cesium into water. You've never seen water burn so bright. :-) My guess is that depending on the type of the matter we're attacking, we can find explosions which work together with the matter in the stellar body to destroy it. You get to more of an issue with soft-bodies commets, which are just a gravity-held bulk of dust, ice, small rocks, etc, and not what we define as a solid rock. Smaller explosions would just be absorbed into the flacid structure.

    I would be interested to hear answers from chemists and physicists out there on specific reactions which can create enough matter propulsion to "space shock waves". You can also always drill the explosive into the rock before you blow it. :-) Heat and expand the matter itself, not air around it. Fill the drilled with water, or something denser.

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