Planetary Migration: When Jupiter Devastated The Solar System!
For a long time the structure of today’s Solar System, characterized by practically circular, coplanar, and equispaced planetary orbits, was believed to be the result of a quiet evolutionary history that would have led each planet to form in the same position where we see.
It today and where it would remain stably in a condition of dynamic equilibrium with its neighbors.
In recent years, however, the opposite point of view has gained acceptance, which sees planetary migrations (especially those of the giant planets) as a decisive phenomenon in the evolution of the Solar System, as it can provide an explanation for various still unclear issues, such as certain planetary masses that are too small, asteroids of different mineral composition mixed in the Main Belt, the strangeness of the Trojan asteroids, the remote Kuiper Belt populated by a variety of object types, and finally the mystery of mysteries: the intense meteoritic bombardment some 3.9 billion years ago that began suddenly and for no apparent reason a full 600 million years after the solar system began to form.
Well, all these puzzles can be explained by a kind of planetary billiards game that began when Jupiter and Saturn began to go around and disrupt the orbits of neighboring planets. In light of this interpretation, which is beginning to be widely accepted by the astronomical community, everything we thought we knew about the formation and evolution of the solar system must be reconsidered, all the more so in an age when technology is opening the door to statistical analysis of extrasolar planetary systems.
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