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Since we have the technology to launch an enormous explosive into the atmospheres of the gas giants, would it be possible to light one on fire since their atmospheres are pretty much all just hydrogen and helium? Would it stay burning?

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    $\begingroup$ helium burns at all? hydrogen would burn with what oxidizer? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 20 '20 at 17:00
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    $\begingroup$ What seems an enormous explosive to us barely registers to a gas giant. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Apr 20 '20 at 17:18
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    $\begingroup$ Do you mean ignite nuclear fusion ? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_fusion $\endgroup$ – Cornelisinspace Apr 20 '20 at 17:20
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    $\begingroup$ I think this question is a good one. Answers should highlight mistakes in the premises. Preconceived ideas can thus be addressed. $\endgroup$ – Manu H Apr 20 '20 at 17:34
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you all for the clarifying comments. It's the oxidization I did not understand. The comment by @Cornelisinspace prompted me to search the question of igniting nuclear fusion and came across this helpful article in case anyone is interested. $\endgroup$ – Josh Withee Apr 20 '20 at 17:42
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Combustion requires a fuel (hydrogen), an ignition source (your enormous explosive), and an oxidizer.

There's a very small amount of oxygen in the atmospheres of the gas giants, almost all of it already bound up in water -- i.e. all the oxygen has already combusted with some of the hydrogen. Without the introduction of a lot more oxygen or other oxidizer, there's no way for the surplus hydrogen to burn.

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    $\begingroup$ Was once some Sci-Fi murder mystery where somebody tried to murder somebody else by sprinkling a catalyst on the regulator of a methane bottle, hoping to spark an explosion. The sleuth's breakthrough clue was the discovery of the same catalyst on an oxygen regulator as well. "Ah Ha!" says the sleuth, "The would-be murderer must be somebody who is used to working out on the surface in the methane atmosphere. He sprinkled the wrong regulator at first, because out there, oxygen is the gas that he must be more careful with." $\endgroup$ – Solomon Slow Apr 20 '20 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ @SolomonSlow: I have read that story! $\endgroup$ – tfb Apr 20 '20 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ @SolomonSlow Isaac Asimov, "The Dust of Death" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dust_of_Death $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Apr 20 '20 at 18:54

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