Can an object be thrown so fast that the individual atoms or molecules separate in air? I mean if you could accelerate an object fast enough, would it disintegrate from the friction of air?

If so, would they separate faster in denser air? I think there would be more particles the object collides with, therefore the range after which it disintegrates is much shorter.

  • $\begingroup$ It is unclear what you are asking. Most of the atmosphere is nitrogen and oxygen, both of which are diatomic molecules. Are you asking if the molecules will split and be left with only atoms of nitrogen and oxygen? No projectile is going to transmute atoms. $\endgroup$ – MaxW Dec 14 '17 at 20:39
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    $\begingroup$ Looks like you are looking for something like reentry. Temperature due to shock wave associated to a projectile can be high enough to ionized and dissociate air. I have no model but density should play a role as T should rise faster . en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_entry $\endgroup$ – Alchimista Dec 14 '17 at 21:00
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    $\begingroup$ I think I understand what you are asking now (since your edit). A person may not be able to throw an object that fast, but think about a meteoroid breaking and burning up as it enters the atmosphere at something like 20 km/s. $\endgroup$ – airhuff Dec 15 '17 at 1:40
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    $\begingroup$ Read comment by @airhuff than go back to my comment. A bullet cannot but the underlying idea in your Q is ok and can be answered with a Yes. A meteoroid not only breaks. The air in the shocked region around it can breaks apart ( ions and monoatomic species form from O2 and N2 depending on T. Which depends in turn on speed of the projectile whatever it is) $\endgroup$ – Alchimista Dec 15 '17 at 10:22
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    $\begingroup$ After reading your edit I see you are thinking of breaking the bullet not the "air". The above comments and link are still valid anyway. It is more for Physics SE without breaking molecules :) $\endgroup$ – Alchimista Dec 15 '17 at 10:25

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