Jupiter-Sized Planets and Distances From Stars
In our solar system, Jupiter has been a key to human survival on earth. Jupiter acts as a type of cosmic vacuum cleaner, for with its large mass comes a large gravitational pull. Because of Jupiter, objects that enter our solar system are attracted to Jupiter and therefore do not bombard earth. Without Jupiter, Earth would be pounded with space trash, significantly jeopardizing life on earth, most probably totally eliminating it. Further, Jupiter needs to be right where it is, far from Earth. If it were close to us, or between us and the Sun, Earth’s orbit would be drastically affected, the objects would be attracted toward Earth and not away from Earth, and there’s a chance the large eclipses that would occur when Jupiter got between us and the Sun would impact the temperature on Earth. The large eclipses and the oribital changes due to Jupiter’s gravity would cause drastic temperature variations on earth, reducing or eliminating life. In effect, if Jupiter were close to the Sun, or did not exist, then the possibility of life on in the solar system would be drastically reduced, probably eliminated.
Astrophysicists have long felt that our solar system was typical. We’re nothing special, just one more ho-hum solar system. However, in recent years they’ve gained the ability to detect planets in other solar systems by observing light patterns from the stars. Interestingly, every Jupiter-sized planet that has been discovered has been close to the star. With each discovery, our solar system appears to be increasingly in the minority…
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|Recommended Resources: The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery | The Privileged Planet (dvd)|