While the intended end state is that this planet can support space-faring lifeforms, the solution under question needs a sanity check. I cannot commit to many numbers with how speculative this all is at present.

The planet is similar to Pluto, in that it is small, cold, has a rocky core surrounded in ice with a possible liquid water mantle, and at least one comparatively large moon (and possibly a few other small ones). I'd rather at least one of these moons be more mineral-rich than Charon appears to be compared to Pluto, but that isn't likely to be relevant for now.

The handwavium meteorite has some exotic properties, the most significant of which is its connection to a solar system-sized pocket universe, which contains a single star. The connection allows light to pass through, but under normal conditions, that's about it. (It might allow some gravity through, if it screwing with the gravity and baricenter of the system helps rather than hurts.) It's normally one-way, and the conditions under which this could change are highly unlikely to arise without intelligent intervention, so it's effectively a large rock that emits light.

I imagine this meteorite (or maybe small asteroid-sized, if necessary) hitting the planet at a high northern latitude, and making its way south and whichever of east/west has the best long-term effects as it penetrates the surface. Then what? My best guess is that it eventually sinks to the core-mantle boundary, as the energy it puts out should melt everything else in its path, and it should bore some way into the outer core, from a mix of shere heat and the perpetual explosion wrapped in a powerful convection current it generates. I could see it having enough influence to prevent the planet and major moon from mutually tidally locking, which would hopefully allow the tidal pressures on the mantle to create periodic variation in the shape of the currents surrounding the crater.

Have I missed anything that dramatically alters the situation? What would be the most likely consequences of such an object penetrating such a planet? Is there a luminocity where the results can be more like this primordial storm, rather than a worthless hotspot or a planet-breaker?

  • $\begingroup$ How do the events you describe lead to this becoming a habitable planet? $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Mar 10, 2020 at 23:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ By adding energy, stirring up minerals, screwing with the geology, and I don't know how it affects chemistry but it seems like there would be some important chemical shenanigans tied to it. Making the planet (rather than a few cubic km around the meteorite) properly habitable is more involved, sure. But it seems like a crude, blunt-force way of Europaforming a region and allowing life a foothold. Maybe? $\endgroup$
    – CAE Jones
    Mar 10, 2020 at 23:54
  • $\begingroup$ I added the reality-check tag as you seem to want your ideas checked for plausibility/self-consistency. $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2020 at 0:27
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    $\begingroup$ A lot depends on the size of this meteorite and how hot it is. Also whenever it's invulnerable, otherwise it will vaporize on impact. If the end result is to make Pluto inhabitable we could work backwards, but the consequences of an impact are likely to take thousands or hundreds of thousands of years to stabilize. It might be easier to put it in orbit as a local sun. $\endgroup$
    – Schwern
    Mar 11, 2020 at 6:44
  • $\begingroup$ My first draft of the question mentioned that the meteorite explicitly survives the impact due to handwaves. Should I edit that back in? $\endgroup$
    – CAE Jones
    Mar 11, 2020 at 12:03

1 Answer 1


What you're doing, in essence, is adding a heat source to the interior of a Pluto-like dwarf planet. The possible outcomes of this depend on the amount of heat you're producing relative to the mass and temperature of your dwarf planet. So you need to pick an outcome and work backwards from that.

  • With little enough heat, nothing much changes.
  • With too much, you melt the ice layer as far as the surface, and it boils away into the vacuum of space. This is not life-friendly.
  • With the right range of heating, you have an under-ice ocean, similar to the one that seems to exist within Europa. That's a conceivably possible environment for life to start.

The obvious difference from Europa is that you have a powerful light source under the ice, which allows for photosynthetic life, rather than the chemosynthetic life which may exist in Europa, analogous to the life based around hydrothermal vents in Earth's oceans.

Once you have life established, with a better energy source than chemosynthesis, you then need to figure out how they get into space.


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