Here’s some interesting news
about a ‘Super
Earth’ that possibly
got pulled into the Sun.
"The only (physical) evidence that super-Earths could have formed in our solar system is the lack of anything in that region, not even a rock,"
said study researcher Rebecca Martin, from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
The idea goes that planets act like sweeping brushes in their solar systems and collect most of the leftover debris from when they were created. We
see evidence of this in the number, and size, of craters on moons and planets (including ours). Right now, we haven’t had a massive impact for
millions of years and our Earthly flight path
is free of doomsday-sized asteroids. We're luckier than the dinosaurs.
If we could go back to the first couple of billions of years, our Solar System was hostile to life with massive collisions occurring in the cold,
silence of space. Huge masses would be smashing into each other and smaller bodies would gradually succumb to the gravity of others. What we have left
are a few planets and hundreds of smaller moons and moonlets. By comparison to the first few billions of years, the last million or so have been like
a California Sunday in summer.
Of course, it’s not all sunbathing and cold drinks as Jupiter found out with the
Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9
. Boom, boom, smash can be quite a surprise and
something like that would be life-changing
for life down here. According
to the wisdom of our brightest minds, we're overdue, but the figures are relative with a few variables.
Scientists have wondered how a petite planet like Mercury could have cleared its path? It's like a little bug out there and couldn't have done the
'heavy lifting' required (according to popular models) to clean out all that space between it and the Sun. 'What could have done all that clearing
up?' They wondered. A couple of astronomers from NevadaU suspect a giant Earth was responsible (pdf).
Devoured Young Super-Earth During Formation Of Solar System
Martin and colleagues noted that it is somewhat puzzling that the solar system does not have super-Earths despite that more than half of the
exoplanetary systems that have been observed have one. The closest super-Earth to our planet, the
219134b, is located 21 light years away.
The fact that there is nothing inside Mercury's orbit, however, may not just be a coincidence as an in situ formation in that region may have cleared
the solid materials.
The researchers, however, noted that the super-Earth that formed would eventually be devoured by the sun given the right
They say it’s possible a ‘super Earth’ once orbited the Sun and would have dwarfed our own world. I can only imagine what our skies would look
like with something like that out there. It might have been a daylight star if it was big enough and the thinking goes that this massive Earth
succumbed to the pull of the Sun and was destroyed. Presumably this would have taken millions of years and must have been some sight when, or if, it
finally increased its orbital decay and sped down into the Sun.
It makes me think of such things as the
and how we
couldn’t be here now if conditions hadn’t worked out just so.
Obviously, I don’t know what effects a super-sized Earth could have had on
other bodies in our system. However, with our ‘Goldilocks zones’ and our regular tides and Life’s preference for temperate conditions, any extra
factor could have rendered this system sterile.
If such a monster existed, we should be very grateful that its metaphorical sacrifice ensured that we could live. One thing's for sure though, it
ain't so super