Would-be astronomers can build a solar system with the SuperPlanetCrash game

It sounds like something manufactured by Nintendo, but SuperPlanetCrash is the brainchild of Stefano Meschiari, an astronomer at the University of Texas at Austin. The online game offers a novel challenge: Design your own solar system and make it last for 500 years. You might think it’s easy to plop a few Super-Earths and giant planets around a single star. But think again. Each planet you place in your solar system exerts a gravitational tug on the others. It doesn’t take that much for one of your dwarf stars to collide with an ice giant.

More than 2 million systems have been created since the game made its debut in April. You start with an Earth-mass planet and begin creating your own solar system. The larger the planet and the more you’re able to plop into your construct, the higher your score. If you prefer, a drop-down menu of actual planetary systems offers a template with which you can tinker.

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.

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