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So, I hear a lot about turning Jupiter into a sun by increasing its mass, but that requires way moreadvanced technology than the humans in my sci-fi project have got. But heard that the sun is basically a giant ball of hydrogen plasma.

So in my worldbuilding project humans run an electrical current through Jupiter that turns the gases inside into plasma, basically turning it into a sun-like ball of plasma. This turns the ice moons, like Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, into water worlds that humans can then colonise. Is the above process at all possible?

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  • $\begingroup$ Related, and this. $\endgroup$ Oct 7, 2022 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ Also related $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Oct 7, 2022 at 14:15
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    $\begingroup$ Since we don't really know what the composition of Jupiter's core is, You could make stuff up. It's rich in something like uranium that's formed stable thin layers somehow. Disrupting the equilibrium triggers widespread nuclear chain reactions. Handwavium. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Oct 7, 2022 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ If you're asking if passing a current through Jupiter's atmosphere can kickstart a process that makes the planet hot, the answer is probably no. If you're asking if something synthetic can be dropped onto Jupiter that continuously agitates the atmosphere to make it hot. The answer is yes. Do the ideas pass suspension-of-disbelief? Yes! Go forth, write great story, make gobs of money. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Oct 8, 2022 at 2:36
  • $\begingroup$ @user98816 My answer to this question: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/236542/… Says that even Ganymede wouldn't have a high enough escape velocity to retain whatever atmosphere was produced bythe terraformers for long periods of time.. $\endgroup$ Oct 13, 2022 at 4:42

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Jupiter moons are too close to it to become habitable should it turn into a star.

However, you won't turn Jupiter into a star by running current through it: stars are kept active by a running nuclear fusion process. Just by running (a huge lot of) electricity through it you would at most turn it into a massive neon tube, which would switch off as soon as you turn off the current.

If you have that much energy to spare, use it to directly heat and sustain colonies on the moons.

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  • $\begingroup$ Upvote for the prospect of "massive neon tube" being your new user name. MNT for short. Upvote also acknowledging general correctness and good answer hygiene. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Oct 7, 2022 at 23:00
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Let's work backward here.

Making Callisto, Europa and Ganymede into habitable worlds via increasing Jupiter's heat radiation probably won't work for all of them at once, because they differ so much in distance from the planet (Ganymede would get roughly half the heat Europa does, and Callisto barely more than a tenth) -- but if you pick one you could probably do it; you might even be able to include both Europa and Ganymede (that's a difference similar to that of Earth and Mars). I wouldn't bother trying it with Io; the level of sulfur on and just below the surface makes it many times as much work to finish terraforming vs. the icy moons.

With that established, you don't really need Jupiter to become a star so much as you need to increase its infrared radiation. There's plenty of light from the Sun for agriculture or ecosystem (much brighter than a well lit interior where house plants can thrive), though you might need some selective breeding.

Larry Niven "solved" the problem of warming up Jupiter in World Out of Time by having the "Girls" drop a moon into the planet (they used Neptune as a gravity tug). The gravitational potential released as heat from the core after such a disturbance will take millennia or longer to leak out, and if you can calculate things right, you might cause some short-lived fusion reactions near the core, increasing the heat output above what you'd get solely from gravity.

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