Thursday, September 22, 2011

Did We Once Have a 5th Gas Giant Planet?

Missing Planet Explains Solar System's Structure - New Scientist 9/22/11

After running thousands of computer model simulations of the creation and history of the solar system, it is becoming apparent to researchers that the best way to explain the current locations and orbits of the planets is to start with 5 gaseous giant planets instead of the four we know and love: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Very interesting findings and definitely gives us something to think about. We could have lost our very own orphan planet, something I wrote about the other day as astronomers have finally started to detect exoplanets without stars around them, victims of cosmic pinball that got jettisoned from their solar systems in a gravity tug of war. I don't know if there is any way to actually confirm that this is indeed what happened, but maybe we can think of some fun names in honor of our potentially missing "9th" planet... Suggestions?

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