Is Jupiter the Reason for Life on Earth?


Our solar system is unlike any other discovered
in the cosmos to date, and a rogue baby Jupiter might be the reason why it’s so weird – and
even home to life. The Solar System consists of four inner planets:
Mercury, Venus, Earth & Mars. They’re known as terrestrial planets because they’re made up of mostly heavy metals like iron and nickel. In comparison to other planetary bodies, they’re
pretty small and their atmospheres are thin. Meanwhile, the gas giants in our outer solar system Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune – are much larger. And unlike other observed gas giants in the cosmos, they’re really far from their parent star – our Sun. So why exactly is our solar system so diverse
and spread out over billions of kilometers? For centuries, our solar system was the only
model we had to learn from, but thanks to NASA planet hunters, like the Kepler Space
Telescope, that all changed. We’ve discovered more than three thousands
exoplanets orbiting other stars and a portion of them reside in multi-planetary systems. So far, scientists have found that the ‘typical’
multi-planetary system, consists of a few super-Earths – extrasolar planets with masses
larger than our own planet but less than the gas giants. They tend to be similar in size, with evenly
spaced out orbits and are located closer to their stars than Mercury is to the Sun. We really can’t say for sure why our solar
system is so different than others, but some scientists point to our largest planet as
a possible explanation. One theory take us back to the formation
of the solar system billions of years ago. It claims that the Sun was once surrounded
by first generation inner planets on their way to becoming “super-Earths”. As the planets were forming, it’s believed
that young Jupiter began migrating inward in a scenario known as the ‘Grand Tack’. It claims that, as Jupiter moved towards the
Sun, its gravitational perturbations caused the planets’ orbits to overlap, resulting
in catastrophic collisions. Some of the premature planet pieces were sent
spiraling into the Sun, while others remained floating in space. Jupiter was allegedly pulled back towards
its current location when Saturn began to form, allowing for the remnants of its havoc to
form into a second generation of planets or the inner solar system as we know it today. If true, the Grand Tack scenario helps explain
why the terrestrial planets are much smaller than typical super-Earths. Some scientists believe Jupiter’s messy
migration could also explain how liquid made it to Earth. As the gas giant wandered back out into space,
its gravitational pull latched onto asteroids that formed beyond the snow line, which is
the distance from a star where icy compounds can condense. Jupiter flung icy space rocks inwards
to the asteroid belt and the region where Earth was forming. It’s believed that these icy asteroids would
have delivered enough ice to account for Earth’s oceans – essentially providing us with the
building blocks for life. So the Grand Tack claims that if juvenile
Jupiter hadn’t swung through our early solar system like a wrecking ball, Earth would never
have been created, and we wouldn’t be alive today. It’s clear, there’s still a lot we need to
learn about our alleged cosmic creator because, after all, these scenarios are still theories. But they do help answer many of the growing
questions about the oddity of our solar system. And, if they hold truth, as some scientists
believe, we have a lot to thank Jupiter for. If you want to see more Space Crafts, check out this playlist here. And be sure to let us know in the comments what astronomical phenomenon you want to learn more about. Thanks for watching Seeker! Don’t forget to subscribe.

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