Planet between Mars and Jupiter could destroy Earth – study
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According to a new study, a planet between Mars and Jupiter could push the Earth out of the solar system and destroy all life on it.
The experiment was conducted by researchers from the University of California at Riverside , and the results were published Tuesday in a peer-reviewed study in the Planetary Science Journal.
Lead author Steven Cain, an astrophysicist at UC Riverside, said the experiment was intended to fill two gaps in planetary science.
One of them is the gap in size between the terrestrial planets and giant gas planets. The smallest gas giant — Neptune is four times the size and 17 times the mass of Earth, the largest terrestrial planet in the solar system, and there is no intermediate size between the two.
“In other star systems, there are many planets with masses in between. We call them super-Earths,” — Kane said.
Another break — this is the position between Mars and Jupiter relative to the Sun.
“The architecture of the orbits of the planets of the solar system shows a significant gap between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, inhabited by a huge cluster of asteroids,” — noted in the study.— “These features of the solar system's architecture provide strong evidence for past interactions, and many problems remain for models of solar system formation.”
“Astronomers often want something in between these two planets,” — Kane said.
Filling in these gaps in astronomical knowledge could shed light on the evolution of the Earth and the architecture of the solar system.
Kane ran dynamic computer simulations of a planet between Mars and Jupiter with many different masses, and observed the influence of the planet on the orbits of others planets of the solar system.
“This fictional planet gives Jupiter a boost that's enough to destabilize everything else. Despite the fact that many astronomers dreamed of this extra planet, it's a good thing we don't have it,” — Kane said.
Since Jupiter is larger than all the other planets in the solar system combined, and its mass is 318 times that of the Earth, its gravitational pull is quite powerful, and if it were disturbed by a super-Earth or any other celestial object, it would have a serious impact on all other planets .The presence of this object could eject Mercury, Venus and Earth from the solar system and destabilize the orbits of Uranus and Neptune, eventually ejecting them into open space.
In addition, the super-Earth will change the shape of the Earth's orbit, far less habitable, if not completely annihilating all life.
However, Kane discovered that if he reduced the mass of the super-Earth and placed it directly between Mars and Jupiter, the planet could remain stable for an extended period of time, unless it is moved a little in some direction.
“This work represents the positive aspect of not having a local oh super-Earths, demonstrating the potential for orbital instability such extra planetary mass could cause,” — the study says.
“Our solar system is more finely tuned than I thought before. Everything works like complex clockwork. Add more gears to the mechanism and everything will break,” — Kane added.
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