Here's What Would Happen If You Lit Fireworks In Space

Whether it's New Year's Eve, the Fourth of July, or any other holiday, there are few things that really mark a special occasion better than a gorgeous fireworks display. The loud crack and sparkling colors shining against an evening sky can add a touch of excitement to any event. But we all know that fireworks, while beautiful, can also be dangerous, and should therefore only be lit in a safe, controlled environment. However, a few curious scientists have been known to wonder: What would happen if we tried to conduct a dazzling fireworks show in the zero-oxygen environment of outer space? Well, according to Kansas State University chemist Stefan Bossmann, "That would be no problem at all" (per PopSci).

Fireworks are made up of three important parts: the fuse, gunpowder, and metal salts, which work together to create the pretty shapes and colors we know and love. According to Planet Science, the fuse is lit, which then in turn ignites the gunpowder that sends the firework straight into the sky with a loud bang. Once in the air, another pocket of gunpowder explodes and lights the different metal salts, each of which emit a different colored flame into the air. This process is pretty self-contained. "They have an oxidizer, and they have a reductant," Bossmann went on to explain, which means the fireworks don't need external oxygen in the atmosphere in order to ignite.

Fireworks would emit almost no color or sound in outer space

However, if you are hoping for a spectacular fireworks show in outer space, set against the backdrop of the solar system, you are unfortunately likely to be disappointed. While the fireworks may be able to go off, they would not produce anywhere near the same type of dazzling light shows that we enjoy here on earth. Instead, due to the lack of oxygen, the metal salts that are responsible for giving the fireworks their color would not have enough energy to burn, per PopSci. So rather than a satisfying boom and array of dazzling colors, the fireworks would quickly fizzle out almost immediately after they were ignited.

Perhaps even more eerily, in space the fireworks would have no sound. Sound waves require an atmosphere in order to generate noise, so in outer space, each firework would emit nothing but silence. So while it might be possible to light fireworks in space, the loud, satisfying booms and bright bursts of color that make fireworks so delightful to watch would be severely reduced.