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Other giant planets behave differently

Other giant planets behave differently

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Jupiter protects the Earth with its gravitational field. The situation is different for other giant planets – in the worst cases, it even makes them uninhabitable.

FRANKFURT – Jupiter, due to its large mass, plays a major role in protecting our solar system. Its large gravitational field repels comets and asteroids that could hit Earth. But proximity to large planets is not always an advantage.

a paperin the specialized magazine Astronomical magazine Stephen R. describes Kane, published by Stephen R. Kane, The influence of large planets on the habitability of their smaller neighbors. Its gravity not only deflects dangers, but can also expel nearby planetesimals from the “habitable zone.” This is determined by how far the planet is from the star so that it is warm enough for liquid water to exist on the planet's surface. This is a basic condition for life.

Jupiter and two of its moons © Science Photo Library/Imago

Four giants make this system uninhabitable

Ken studies the habitability of the planetary system around the star HD 141399. HD 141399 is a main sequence star in the Bearguard constellation. This system has four large planets, which is not a good condition for their smaller colleagues. Unlike many other systems, the four planets in this system are farther from their star. “It's as if they have four Jupiters acting like wrecking balls and throwing everything off track,” Kane said.

The author researched the influences of the four planets through computer simulations. He wanted to test whether Earth could remain stable in the habitable zone within this system. His answer is a cautious yes: “The answer is yes, but it is highly unlikely. There are only a few regions where the giants' gravity would not knock the planet out of its orbit and thus out of the region.

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One giant is enough to knock other planets out of their orbit

Keane doesn't just study how multiple large planets affect the system. Even one in the middle of the habitable zone would have a similar effect. In another paper It deals with the system GJ 357 and calls the planet GJ 357 d to have a “chaos factor”. The planet was originally thought to be about six times the size of Earth. But Kane thinks it's possible the planet could be 10 times larger. If the planet is much larger than previously thought, it may be responsible for preventing smaller planets from remaining in the habitable zone.

The research shows how unusual it is to find the right conditions for life in our world. It would also have consequences on Earth if the planets also moved closer to the stars as well. Suitable temperature is another condition for habitability. Different planets have different temperatures.