Astronomers have always been interested in how the Solar System formed and how did life on Earth begin. While some questions have been answered, we are nowhere close to the knowledge of the whole history of our planet and Solar System. Nevertheless, astronomers and researchers are making small but steady steps to uncover all the mysteries our universe contains.
A new discovery that the astronomers made is that the planetary migration might have happened sooner than it was previously thought. This event is called ‘planetary migration,’ and it occurs when a planet interacts with a cosmic object or dust and it drifts away from that object. In our case, the planets started to step away from the Sun.
Scientists hypothesized that in the early days of our Solar System, around 4.5 billion years ago, there have been brutal impacts between planets and other celestial objects which lead to the creation of the planets almost as we know them today. At some point, some of the planets started to drift away from the Sun. There are four planets that are believed to have migrated: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
Life on Earth might have started sooner than thought thanks to faster planetary migration
The astronomers think that the gravitation of Jupiter affected the other three planets and started to change their orbits; Jupiter comes closer to the Sun, while Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune depart.
This theory accounts for the structure of our Solar System the way it is today. While not all the details are set, the researchers pinpointed the starting point of the migration: 4.48 billion years ago. This means that the Solar System was mostly formed and it had calmed down. This information leads the researchers to believe that life on Earth could have been supported even earlier than 3.5 billion years ago, and that is 4.4 billion years ago.
Also, they discovered that a lunar impact happened before 3.9 billion years ago, more likely 4.5 billion years ago. The team of researchers succeeded in doing a computer simulation of planetary migration in our Solar System.
Lena Pierce is a reporter for Great Lakes Ledger. After graduating from Ryerson In Toronto, Lena got an internship at CBC radio in Calgary. Lena was also a beat reporter for the Calgary Flames. Lena mostly cover sports and community events. Contact Lena here.