Use gravity to crash planets and suns into each other in the name of science? Yes, please! Welcome to Super Planet Crash, a webtoy by science blogger Stefano Meschiari, which serves as a kind of digital orrery (a device which shows the relative size, position and motion of planets in a solar system). In this addicting little app, you have a 2AU area, that is, an area only twice the distance of our Earth from the sun, in which to place planets and/or stellar companions, and attempt to keep them stable for up to 500 years of elapsed time. With small, earth-type bodies, it's a cinch, but add a dwarf star and you up the difficulty. Fortunately, you also increase the points you earn for each year of stability.
The sleek design and ease of use make the app irresistible, especially when you begin to click around on the page. You can choose different solar system templates, such as a compact Kepler-11 theoretical system, four different planet sizes, and two stellar companions. You can speed it up, slow it down, pause and take a picture of your winning combination. The "end screen" even gives you a link to share the system you create on your web site or blog. In addition to the fun stuff, there are also links to space and science sites to help you make sense of the Newtonian physics at work. Be sure you want to leave the page though: they open in the same window. And who knows. The next time we check, we may see your name (and get to watch a prerecorded version of your system) in the the High Scores list.