Well, you’re not getting anything done for the rest of the day. You’re welcome. Instead, you’ll be playing Super Planet Crash and building your own star system while trying desperately not to crash planets and stars into each other or the invisible snow globe the universe lives in. That’s how the universe works, right?
Super Planet Crash, which is free to play online right here and will steal hours from your day, was created by Stefano Meschiari, who is a postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas Austin’s McDonald Observatory. He used his experience working on the Systemic Console application that helps analyze data about the orbits of real alien worlds to create Super Planet Crash‘s gravity-based game mechanics.
At the start, you’re presented a star system with its habitable zone highlighted and a single, Earth-sized planet in a random orbit. From there, it’s your job to play god and add planets and dwarf stars of varying sizes without letting the whole thing spin out of control and crash into the barrier at 2 astronomical units (two times the distance from the Earth to the Sun) from the center.
You can organize your solar system however you want, so play around and see what you can come up with. Building binary star systems can be a lot of fun, but the 2 AU game-over barrier makes it a bit risky:
Your goal is to create a system that lasts for 500 years, which isn’t terrible hard to do if you just drop in a bunch of Earth-sized planets in evenly spaced orbits, but why would you be that boring? Not only is it fun to load up your system with massive bodies and see how their gravity affects each other, but you get bonus score multipliers for adding bigger bodies, “crowdedness,” and “habitability.”
If you’re the competitive omnipotent being-type, there’s a leader board on the right hand side for you to try to top. It’s great for playing around and blowing a few hours, and Mesciari is still working on adding more star system templates to the game, so hopefully it’ll get more additions in the future.
Maybe the 2 AU barrier will eventually be expanded for those of us who like to play it fast and loose with our dwarf star placement.
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