The life on earth owes its existence to Jupiter. The largest planet in our solar system ensured earth survived and matured enough to hold life, suggest scientists.
Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, ensured earth had a more than a decent chance of survival by playing big-brother and shooing away rogue planets during the early stages of planetary formation and alignment. According to a team of scientists at UC Santa Cruz, Jupiter either destroyed other planets during early formation period or chased them out of our solar system in order to allow Earth take root and support life.
Basing their decision on independent research as well as referencing other supportive studies, the scientists believe the earth and more importantly its inhabitants have Jupiter to thanks for their existence. Without Jupiter guarding the space, other larger planets, commonly referred to as ‘super-earths’ would have easily pummeled and eventually obliterated our beloved earth.
The study merely corroborates the fact that our solar system is indeed differently constituted compared to hundreds discovered and perhaps thousands of as yet undiscovered planetary systems that could have organic life, but don’t, explained planetary scientist Konstantin Batygin at the California Institute of Technology,
“Indeed, it appears that the solar system today is not the common representative of the galactic planetary census. Instead we are something of an outlier.”
In the earlier, formative years of the solar system, the region closest to the sun was occupied by numerous planets with masses several times bigger than that of Earth. Though crude, they too, were planetesimals – planetary building blocks – that formed within the first million years after the birth of the sun.
This is how things might have stayed if the young Jupiter had stayed put at its initial orbit, between 3 and 10 Astronomical Units away from the sun (An Astronomical Unit, or AU, is the distance between the earth and the sun. Today, Jupiter’s orbit ranges between 5 and 5.5 AUs from the sun)
As Jupiter moved, it carried or dragged away other smaller objects with it. This resulted in large number of interplanetary crashes that destroyed quite a few super-earths, but somehow left our earth not just alone, but cocooned and sheltered, ready to harbor and sustain life.
This explains that though there might be millions of earth-like planets in other planetary systems, they might not harbor life, despite being hospitable. These planets would need a watchful and protective big brother like our Jupiter to stand guard and decimate any celestial object that dared to harm earth.
[Image Credit | Cosmos Up]