In Super Rude Move, Jupiter May Have Kicked Another Gas Giant Planet Out of Our Solar System
Eviction via space bees.
The possibility that our Solar System was once home to five gas giant planets, instead of four, was originally proposed back in 2011. Scientists suspected that a close planetary encounter with either Saturn or Jupiter may have evicted the fifth gas giant soon after the Solar System’s formation, and now a new study in The Astrophysical Journal shows it may have been Jupiter that did the bootin’.
Lead researcher Ryan Cloutier of the University of Toronto explains that his team’s “evidence points to Jupiter.” For the study, Cloutier and his fellow researchers used a computer simulation of the current orbits of Callisto and lapetus (Jupiter and Saturn’s moons, respectively). Cloutier explains,
Jupiter is capable of ejecting the fifth giant planet while retaining a moon with the orbit of Callisto. On the other hand, it would have been very difficult for Saturn to do so because Iapetus would have been excessively unsettled, resulting in an orbit that is difficult to reconcile with its current trajectory.
(via Science Daily)
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