We may have Jupiter to thanks for Planet Earth's presence, according to a recent study that proposes that before Mercury, Earth, Venus and Mars formed, the inner solar system might have hosted numerous super-Earths. The theory is that Jupiter journeyed towards the Sun before moving to outer solar system again, and in the course destroyed the first-generation into the Sun, creating way for Earth. The scenario has been suggested by Konstantin Batygin, a Caltech planetary researcher, and Gregory Laughlin of UC Santa Cruz in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Batygin, an assistant professor of planetary science, says "Our work suggests that Jupiter's inward-outward migration could have destroyed a first generation of planets and set the stage for the formation of the mass-depleted terrestrial planets that our solar system has today,"
Jupiter might have acted as a wrecking ball, causing objects in the inner solar system to bump into each other and make way for the Earth. [Image Credit: Getty images]
The theory could clarify why our solar system is so diverse from those in our galactic neighborhood. Naturally they have one or more planets that are considerably more massive than Earth orbiting nearer to their suns than Mercury does, but very few objects at distances beyond. The suggested model of our solar system relies on the Grand Tack scenario, which was first introduced in 2001 by a team of scientists at Queen Mary University of London. In that scenario, throughout the first few million years of the solar system's life, when planetary objects were still surrounded by disc of gas and dust around a comparatively young Sun, Jupiter became so enormous and gravitationally influential that it was able to create a crack in the disc, with the Sun then dragging Jupiter to inner solar system. Only Saturn stopped it from being shattered on the face of the Sun.
Batygin proposes Saturn formed after Jupiter but was dragged toward the Sun at a quicker rate, letting it to catch up and the two bodies to apply a gravitational effect on one another, reversing the planets' migration course and sending them back outward in the solar system. Batygin says that the inner solar system was vacant as Jupiter dragged all objects along until they smashed into each other and spiraled into the sun.