Quirks & Quarks

Jupiter Attacks!

Early in the solar system's life Jupiter might have cleared out the inner solar system, making room for Earth

Jupiter may have wiped out early planets

Jupiter from Cassini (NASA)
Our solar system seems to be missing planets, and Jupiter is to blame. As we observer more and more other solar systems in our galaxy, astronomers have come to realize that our system has a relative paucity of planets in the the inner part of the solar system.

Dr. Greg Laughlin, a Professor of Astronomy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and colleagues, have developed a model in which, very early in the history of our solar system, a migration inwards by a young Jupiter cleared out the inner solar system.

Jupiter then migrated back out to where it is today, leaving behind the debris that then formed Earth and the other inner solar system planets we see today.

Related Links

- Paper in PNAS
- UC Santa Cruz release
- Scientific American story