TNRTB Archive – Retained for reference information
Planetary scientists at the University of Colorado have confirmed an important design feature for the solar system. They note that all of the Jupiter-sized extrasolar planets that have been discovered so far with orbits more distant from their stars than Earth is from the Sun (a total of 72) possess moderately elliptical orbits. Their detailed computer modeling demonstrates that such planets typically will eject most of the planets and planetesimals within the “habitable zone” and leave the surviving bodies with a wide enough dispersion of eccentricity and inclination so as to make them uninhabitable. It appears, therefore, that potentially habitable planetary systems, in addition to not possessing any gas giants (like Jupiter) that closely orbit their stars, cannot possess any gas giant planets with moderately elliptical orbits. This conclusion indicates that the solar system may be specially designed for life since, so far, it remains the only known planetary system that possesses life-friendly gas giant planets.
- Dimitri Veras and Philip J. Armitage, “The Influence of Massive Planet Scattering on Nascent Terrestrial Planets,” Astrophysical Journal Letters 620 (2005): L111-L114.
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