Maynard's Folly

A world devastated by the accidental impact of a relativistic ship

Maynard's Folly
Image from Chris Shaeffer

Named after the captain of the relativistic ship that crashed into this once beautiful world. The ship, a standard Spacefarer Union design with a mass of 100,000 tonnes, impacted at 0.7c, vaporising when it hit the atmosphere and irradiating the surface with the flash with at an altitude of 50 km. The instantaneous thermal flux at the horizon (with a slant range of about 801 km) was about 47 megawatts per square meter. This burn/vaporized anything, including stone, within the affected area (a bit over two million square kilometers, centered on a "ground zero" directly beneath the explosion). Those fires that did start were put out by the following blast wave a few minutes later. Inhabitants of the planet's unaffected side were slowly cooked as the atmosphere transferred heat from the impact site to the rest of the planet.

In addition the explosion generated about ten trillion tons of nitrogen oxides, so the planet's ozone layer was devastated. Dust in the atmosphere caused the surface to receive less insolation, and once the surface finally cooled by radiating its heat the planet was plunged into nuclear winter. Only a few species survived the flash-heating and subsequent cooling; no modosophonts on the surface (or on the ship) survived.

The reason for Captain Maynard's devastating navigational error is not known.
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Development Notes
Text by Chris Shaeffer, with additions by Radtech497

Initially published on 20 January 2012.