GORATH, THE MYSTERY PLANET
by Den Valdron

edited by Chris N

While researching info for my "Alien Races in the Showa Toho Universe" article posted elsewhere on The Godzilla Saga, I came across a bit of information on Gorath, the runaway "mystery planet" from the eponymous 1963 Toho film:

"Satellites indicate a disturbance in the Van Allen belt, while Pluto's orbit has deviated markedly. Scientists calculate that Gorath is 6,000 times as large as the Earth. However, the crew of the Hawk is [sic] unable to locate it. As they approach the orbit of Saturn, the men make visual contact with their target, discovering to their horror that they are dealing with an object that is only half the size of the Earth, but 6,000 times its mass."

This gives us an opportunity to make some reasonable assessments of what Gorath actually is. The reference to Gorath being 'half the size' of Earth relates either to volume or diameter.

If the reference is to volume, then Gorath is a body of approximately 3/4 Earth's diameter, and 12,000 times its density.

On the other hand, if Gorath is a body of approximately 1/2 Earth's diameter, then this means it is roughly the size of Mars. In the latter case, it would have approximately 1/16 of Earth's volume. Or to put it another way, you could fit 16 Gorath's into Earth's space.
6,000 x 16 = 96,000. Round it off a bit, and Gorath's density is approximately 100,000 times the density of Earth.

Earth itself is a pretty dense, heavy planet, with a large iron core and a shell of rock.

If Earth were made completely out of an element such as lead or uranium, you might not have more than two to four times present density. (For the record, the density of lead is 11.33 g/cm3, and 19.05 g/cm3 per uranium). Lead is pretty much the heaviest conventionally stable element; above lead, you can get much denser but much less stable.

This suggests that Gorath's composition is not, in any way, shape, or form, normal matter. The question becomes, is Gorath a neutron star?

The following sites gives us the density value for a neutron star.

http://instruct1.cit.cornell.edu/courses/astro101/lec23.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutron_star

Taking the Wikipedia reference as a handy guide, A neutron star is 70,000 times the density of our solar system's sun. (I'm not sure Wikipedia has this right, and a more accurate figure might be 70,000,000, but for convenience, I'll go with the lighter number. It doesn't actually change the overall conclusions that much).
70,000 times solar density is loosely in our ballpark.

The Sun's density is 1.41 g/cm3, while Earth's is 5.52 g/cm3. Or, very very roughly, Earth is approximately four times the density of the Sun. Which means that a neutron star is about 18,000 times as dense as Earth. Remember, we're speaking about relative densities here, not mass.

The above begins to pose a problem. If we accept Gorath as half Earth's volume, then its density is only 12,000 instead of 18,000, as it should be. This suggests that Gorath may be a neutron star or neutron star fragment at its core (perhaps only a few dozen or hundred yards in diameter) covered with a shell of degraded material (several thousand miles in diameter), which insulates it.

Gorath, in the above scenario, would be a 'black body' planetoid. The neutron star component at its core would not have enough cumulative mass to remain stable and would be in a state of continuous degradation, resulting in a massive outpouring of radiation on every wavelength. Most of this, however, would be absorbed within the thousands of miles of the sphere's outer shell.

The result would be that you would not be seeing Gorath screaming out radio waves, higher wavelengths, or even light. Only the lowest wavelengths would be reaching the outer layers. The lowest wavelengths, of course, are radiant heat.

So Gorath would be extremely hot on the surface, but would probably not be emitting light in any great volume. Gorath would probably be reflecting as much outside light as it was actually emitting. So at best, it would seem slightly brighter than expected for its size, perhaps twice as bright.

However, note that astronomers on Earth couldn't spot it, even as close as the vicinity of Saturn. It would be hard to miss an object that close in 1977 (the year that the events of Gorath took place in the Showa Toho Universe [STU]), even a celestial body as small as that. In comparison, astronomers prior to 1950 were able to spot Pluto, a much smaller object at a much greater distance, and to identify most of the moons around the gas giants that were larger than a small to medium-sized asteroid.

This suggests that Gorath is a very dark body indeed. In fact, it may be reflecting very very little light at all, and have a very low albedo. Effectively, in astronomical terms, it would be a 'black object', a wandering stellar body with so little output on higher wavelengths from light to radio, that you'd never notice it until it was almost literally on top of you.

The distinction between Gorath and an 'actual' black hole at this point becomes fairly arbitrary. Both of them are tiny, non-radiant, 'black' bodies, whose mass and gravity are such that encountering them is immediate doom, and who are capable of devouring worlds.

To a scientist, the distinction is obvious and immediate, of course. To a layman, the distinction may not be so apparent when caught and obliterated in the gravity field.

Although it may effectively be a black body, Gorath is radiating heavily on infra-red (i.e., heat) wave lengths. Whatever minor light emissions it produces are probably in the low reds. Up close, it might seem hellish, burning with reds and oranges and casting a very unhealthy looking hue. A very nasty contender.

Because Gorath is radiating heavily below visible light frequencies, essentially radiating vast amounts of heat energy, its presence as it approaches would probably register as heat effects. An Earth with Gorath in the sky would start to see things as getting very warm, with massive heat waves, droughts, forest fires, etc.

Interestingly, this is exactly the effect of the rogue planet in Daiei's sci-fi film Warning From Space:
"As the asteroid comes closer, the climate of Earth begins to change. Things get hot and desolate, and natural disasters ensue. Humans are forced to take shelter underground," according to the review of the film on Teleport City:

http://www.teleport-city.com/movies/reviews/w-z/warning_from_space.html (this site also contains a picture depicting that rogue planet as a glowing red/orange ball).

Another web site review also references 'scorching heat and natural disasters':
http://www.digitalmonsterisland.com/warning_from_space.html

Of course, the one thing that wouldn't be affected by the shell of degraded matter around it would be gravity. Gravity effects would be seen from potentially quite far away.

After all, a body with the relatively low mass and density of Earth's moon can produce eight foot tides on its parent planet from a quarter million miles.

A body of Gorath's mass would probably produce catastrophic tidal effects in the form of floods, hurricanes and other violent storms, and even tectonic shifts (earthquakes and Tsunami) from millions of miles away.

But, let me apologize for a digression here. Let's consider another scenario. If Gorath, as we've noted, is Mars-sized, about half the diameter of Earth, then its density is about 96,000 times that of Earth. But the collapsed matter of a neutron star is only about 18,000 times that of Earth! Suddenly, Gorath seems far too dense! You can't get matter denser than a neutron star. The next step is a black hole.

So, Gorath may actually be a genuine black hole wrapped in a cyst of degraded matter. Of course, Gorath is far too small in terms of mass to be a stable black hole, so at some point, it's going to unravel.

Of course, before it violently goes kaboom, the 'black hole' version of Gorath will probably act and operate in much the same way as the 'neutron star fragment' Gorath. The outer cyst traps the radiation released from crossing the event horizon, Gorath radiates mostly on the low wavelength/infra red/heat spectrum, produces or reflects very little light, and has massive gravity effects.

Again, to the layman the distinction is fairly arbitrary. Black, hot body and certain death. Indeed, you might have to burrow all the way through Gorath's outer layers to determine which it really is...a journey likely to be instantly fatal.

But we've noted that any black hole at Gorath's core would be inherently unstable. How about a neutron star fragment?

Whatever Gorath is, it certainly isn't an entire neutron star. Those things range between 1.5 and 3 times the mass of the sun, and massive as Gorath is, it's not in that league.

Which is why I argue that Gorath is a neutron star fragment. But then, how stable is a neutron star fragment? The density of a neutron star is a factor of its gravity. Without that super gravity, a fragment is likely to decay, un-collapsing upwards to ordinary matter. The only thing slowing down the un-collapse is the volume of neutron star matter itself. The outer shell of degraded matter is, in comparison, so light and airy as to have almost no effect.

This suggests that objects like Gorath tend to be inherently unstable, and over the course of a few million or billion years, will take care of themselves.

Of course, returning to the deadly stellar object from Warning From Space, it occurs to me that if it were sufficiently unstable, i.e., in an advanced process of degradation, it might well be possible to blow it up with a comparatively minor trigger. That might be something like setting off a nuclear warhead with a match. But have the right detonator, hit at the right moment...

So, this may explain how Earthlings and aliens were able to work together to blow up an entire rogue planet in Warning From Space.

It's tempting to speculate that the rogue planets from Gorath and Warning From Space were the same type of celestial body. If we link the Showa Era Daiei and Toho continuities, we might even argue that they were related, despite the 20-year difference in their appearances.

Is it possible? Certainly. In fact, it's almost likely. The event that produced Gorath was probably the explosion of a neutron star, scattering fragments all about. Gorath was almost certainly not the only fragment. All fragments would have acted in the same way, accreting shells of degraded matter around themselves. And it's quite likely that the fragments might have fallen into orbit around each other, becoming paired or binary systems.

But 20 years difference? Again, not unlikely. Consider our native solar system. Jupiter's rotation period is 6 years. Saturn's is 12. Pluto's is about 200. Sedna's rotation period is in the thousands of years. Assuming that the bodies in Gorath and Warning From Space are 'companions', they may well have orbited each other at a period of decades, and may well have intersected with the Sol system decades apart.

Hence, we see the possibility of a correlation between the events in the two films, and another argument in favor of linking the two continuities together, for those researchers who are inclined to do so.