The gas planets in our Solar System
(Mirror Daily, United States) A new study performed at the University of Toronto shows that some four billion years ago, Jupiter kicked a planet out of our solar system.
2011 was the year when the theory was proposed that another giant gas planet, the fifth, existed in our solar system. But said planet doesn’t exist anymore, and all evidence point to Jupiter. Astronomers believe that Jupiter is the cold blooded killer here.
Planet ejections from solar systems have been seen before and they happen when two planetary bodies come too close to one another. One of those two accelerates so much that it actually gets released from the Sun’s gravitational pull.
Studies about these occurrences have been made before, but this one is different. Usually, studies take into consideration large cosmic bodies, such as planets or stars. But this one also takes a look at smaller bodies, like moons of giant planets and their orbits.
The lead author of this new study is Ryan Cloutier, a PhD candidate from the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics with the University of Toronto. He says that himself and his team, during the study have used, as a basis, trajectories of Callisto, one of Jupiter’s moons and Iapetus, one of Saturn’s 62 moons discovered so far.
Based on Callisto, they found that Jupiter was completely capable of throwing out of the solar system another giant gas planet, while still retaining a moon such as Callisto herself. At the same time, Saturn would have had a difficult time doing so, because his moon Iapetus would have been unsettled, which would have ended in a trajectory very hard to reconcile with its current trajectory.
So it seems that our solar system actually had five gas planets, not the four we know today: Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune and Saturn. But Jupiter kicked one out some 4 billion years ago, like a huge chess game, where slowly, but surely all the pawns are thrown out of the game only for the important pieces to remain on the board.
However, scientists that abide by the theory of one planet expelling another, are still at the beginning of their road. For example, they can’t yet explain what happens to other celestial bodies or space debris around the expelled planet when it happens.
In the same way, they cannot say for now where the expelled planet might have gone to. The outer rims of the Solar System and what went on there are treacherous water to wade through.
Image Source: www.wikimedia.org