New research claims that a long-wished for planet between Mars and Jupiter could actually have had some major ramifications for Earth. According to the new paper, which is published in the Planetary Science Journal, many astronomers have long wished that a planet existed between Mars and Jupiter to make up for the dead space there. But, if it had, we could have ended up with an uninhabitable Earth.
Life on Earth is precious, and the solar system that we call home isn’t exactly the most stable thing in the universe. In fact, previous studies have claimed that even a tiny shift in Jupiter’s orbit could have bizarre effects on Earth. But what if we put an entire planet between Jupiter and Mars? According to UCR astrophysical Stephen Kane, it could have made Earth uninhabitable.
The cause of this less habitable Earth would have been due to the changes that a planet between Mars and Jupiter would have had on the overall orbit of the planets within our solar system. While small planets within a certain size could have existed in the area according to simulations, it wouldn’t have taken much for them to throw the solar system into disarray, possibly making Earth uninhabitable as a result.
In fact, Kane says that a big enough planet existing between Mars and Jupiter would have actually kicked Earth out of orbit completely. Of course, there is no planet there, so all this speculation doesn’t matter in the long run. But the data showcased could help us in our search for life beyond Earth. That’s because knowing the circumstances that would make Earth uninhabitable can help us determine if other systems can support life, too.
As such, this odd study has implications for the ability of other systems to host a planet capable of supporting life to the same degree as Earth. That doesn’t necessarily make finding such a system any easier, but it could mean more improved models to help with that search in the future.