• Question: @Steve Has A Star One Ever "Fallen" To Earth?

    Asked by Jana to Steve on 17 Mar 2016.
    • Photo: Steve Marsden

      Steve Marsden answered on 17 Mar 2016:

      A star is much bigger than a planet. The sun is about 300,000 times the mass of the Earth. If a star and a planet were to collide, the planet would be engulfed and vapourised.

      When we talk about shooting stars, these aren’t stars at all. They’re actually meteors. Small chunks of ice or rock that are skimming through the atmosphere. They travel at extremely high speeds through the air, which causes them (and the air around them) to get very hot, glowing bright enough to see from the ground.

      It’s very rare for a shooting star to reach the ground. As they pass through the atmosphere the outer surface is stripped off, and they gradually get smaller and smaller until there is nothing left. All within a few seconds!

      Some do get through. What’s left after passing through the atmosphere is usually between the size of a coconut and a car.