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They list planetary systems that likely developed life

They list planetary systems that likely developed life

After ten years of work, a team of astrophysicists has listed the planetary systems that are most similar to our solar system. In addition to Earth-like planets, the systems included in its system Search for the giant planet Kepler Includes at least one gas giant similar in size to Jupiter; The latter is in fact suspected to have strongly influenced the structure of our solar system… and perhaps the emergence of life on Earth.

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Our solar system is the only planetary system in which we know that life has evolved; This is thus our only example of searching for potential analogues that could potentially harbor habitable worlds. It is also assumed to have certain characteristics, in light of other systems discovered today: it contains, for example, four small rocky planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) in its interior, and four giant gas planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune). ) in its outer part. Of all these planets, only one, Earth, has liquid water on its surface, an essential element for the emergence of life as we know it. According to scientists, the current structure of our solar system (the arrangement of the planets and their distance from the Sun) was not always the same, and many planetary migrations occurred shortly after its birth, resulting in water passing over the young Earth. Allowing the appearance of the first living organisms.

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The importance of Jupiter in our solar system

Shortly after our star, the Sun, was born, planets formed over a few million years within the protoplanetary disk, a disk of gas and dust swirling around the young star. According to the models most accepted today, the planets at that time were much more compact than they are today, and all closer to the Sun. The gravitational effects of one on the other dispersed them throughout the solar system, in particular by moving the gas giants successively farther and closer toward the orbits we know today. One of the main consequences of these planetary migrations comes from Jupiter, the largest and most massive planet orbiting our sun.

Jupiter’s migration into the solar system would have destabilized the orbits of low-mass objects in the outer region of the solar system. Objects would have found themselves ejected from the solar system, while part of them would have migrated to more outer regions, giving birth to the Kuiper Belt; The rest migrated toward the inner regions of the solar system, part of which would collide with terrestrial planets, including Earth, leading to the Late Great Bombardment about 4 billion years ago. This gravitational destabilization would also push icy, water-rich bodies toward the interior of our solar system, and inevitably toward Earth.

Jupiter’s presence in its current location continues to bring debris into the inner solar system to this day. Thus, Jupiter appears to have played a prominent role in the structure of the solar system, and even in the emergence of life on Earth. If this whole model seems to work well with what we observe today, then it is impossible for us to go back in time to observe these phenomena; With this in mind, a team of scientists from the University of Notre Dame in the United States, Create a catalogue Planetary systems containing Earth-like exoplanets as well as at least one Jupiter-like gas giant.

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Catalog of systems most similar to the solar system?

they Search for the giant planet Kepler KGPS was created using a database collected by the WM Keck Observatory, located in Hawaii. The researchers recorded nearly 3,000 radial velocities of 63 Sun-like stars orbited by 157 known minor planets, ranging in size from Mars to Neptune. Some have hard rock surfaces, which could be suitable for life. But gas giant planets are generally difficult for astronomers to find, as some detection methods don’t work. The Kepler Space Telescope, which ended its mission in 2018, was a great tool for scientists searching for small exoplanets orbiting close to their stars. He used the transit method, which measures small differences in a star’s brightness to indicate the presence of a planet orbiting it.

But for gas giants, it’s different: they are generally much farther away from their stars. Jupiter, for example, takes about 12 years to orbit the Sun. In addition, unlike planets close to their stars, distant planets often have slightly tilted orbits as seen from Earth, making differences in brightness less significant. To address this problem, the scientists who participated in developing the catalog used the radial velocity method: this method measures the relative speed of stars and their possible changes, which indicate the presence of a planet in its orbit. The intensity of these variations provides information about the exoplanet’s mass, star, and distance. But these differences are often small, although gas giants exhibit strong attraction. For each star observed, scientists had to make a large number of measurements, sometimes over several hundred nights for a single star.

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The efforts eventually paid off, because scientists were able to produce the first catalog listing the planetary systems most similar to the solar system among those currently known. They hope that an in-depth study of the identified systems will allow a better understanding of the relationship between the presence of gas giants in a planetary system and the geometry of the latter, and perhaps even find out whether the presence of Jupiter is on our planet or not. The solar system was, or was not, necessary for the emergence of life on Earth.