Now, for a little context, L.G.R.B.C.s, or Lesser Gamma Ray Burst Cannons, are extremely powerful weapons that are used almost exclusively by the Karan, a race of religious automatons that wish to wipe out all life and matter in the universe to "cleanse" it. For those who do not know, gamma ray bursts are real life phenomena that usually happens when a high mass star collapses into a neutron star or black hole. Now, the G.R.B.C. is quite important to the story, and let me ask, would it be possible, how would it work, and what would happen if it was fired from an orbital assault?

Update: I just started my chatroom called The Council Of Devourers, for discussing the creation of my universe.

Update 2: The Council of Devourers is closed now. No further discussion shall occur.

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    $\begingroup$ Are you asking about triggering an actual gamma ray burst (requiring a handy stellar remnant), emulating a gamma ray burst somehow, or just making a gun that spits out gamma rays? Cos an actual GRB used in an "orbital assault" is a bit like using a nuclear hand grenade to crack a walnut. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 18:40
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    $\begingroup$ You know, I may have to think about this. Because, well, really, you are quite right. A full power GRB would be more than that, it would be like using the Subtle Knife (If you don't know what that is, read Phillip Pullman) to slice butter. Perhaps a lessened version would do. That would also mean that while it would take an enormous amount of power to create, it wouldn't require an entire star. This seems feasible, since this is a type 3 civilization. I imagine a black hole generator would do for power. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime did the calc.. More like using a Tsar Bomba to move one molecule. GRB is some 19 magnitudes stronger than needed to vaporise Earth. $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 19:08
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    $\begingroup$ @PcMan I figured that once you'd done something silly enough to blow yourself up, the excess orders of magnitude were less important ;-) $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think we have gamma ray lenses yet. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 20:36

1 Answer 1


would it be possible

For a given value of possible, yes. Whether it is feasible is the question you should ask yourself.

how would it work

You either produce a lot of gamma rays like we do for radiotherapy, but do it in bursts; or you blow up a nearby star by feeding it another star. At least one of them should be big as in around a couple handful solar masses big or larger.

and what would happen if it was fired from an orbital assault?

If you are not blowing up a star, then an impressive amount of nothing might happen. The Earth's atmosphere is practically impervious and opaque to gamma radiation. From the ground we might see a flash of infrared as the cannon goes hot, we might think satellite blew up or something. YMMV... Other planets with other atmospheres might not be so resilient.

If you are blowing nearby stars, then the atmosphere gets blown away into space and the surface of the planet on the side facong the burst melts. Everything on the side that is hit gets scorched, everything on the other side gets instantly frozen in vacuum. Your ship and cannon become plasma. Notice that GRB's only come at light speed and star systems are usually light years apart, so don't hold your breath after you pull the trigger.

If you do the star thing at point blank range, though (i.e.: blow the planet's sun), then the whole planet becomes plasma alongside your ship and cannon. If you don't make a black hole, the resulting neutron star will collect the disassembled remains of the planet on its crust (yes, neutron stars are crusty).

  • $\begingroup$ If you fire an intense beam of gamma rays at eg. Earth, it doesn't have to reach the ground to be Very Bad News even if it isn't nova-sized. It'll causes a high-altitude EMP, for one. Enough energy absorbed by the atmosphere can generate a fireball and shockwave somewhat like a nuclear explosion. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ Disappointing. I guess I need to find another natural space phenomena of mass destruction. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ Also, don't ask. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 18:54
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    $\begingroup$ @starfishprime anyone who can do tht with lasers can save on logistics by just using nukes anyway. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 18:56
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    $\begingroup$ At the sort of energy densities an actual Gamma Ray Burst achieves, the Earth's atmospheric shielding just means it will explode sooner, by the time the leading front of Gamma rays would have traveled from the fringe of the atmosphere to the ground. A good Gamma Ray Burst contains some 10e44Joules of energy. Enough (if all absorbed) to heat the entire planet Earth to4 quadrillion kelvin. Merely having the atmosphere absorb this first will not help in the least little bit $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 19:06

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