Posted by: Kevin | September 26, 2006

From the Science & Space pages of CNN.com

                                                 vertextrasolarplanets.jpg

 Comes this.

Whenever I see a story like this I have to stop and read, because the idea of being able to find life on other planets is just plain cool.  I’d like to see the actual science article that this abstract is based on because it seems counter to what I’ve read in the past. 

A lot of things went right for the Earth to be the way it is (i.e. habitable).  One of those things was the presence of Jupiter in the outer solar system to act like a celestial bouncer.  Jupiter’s enormous gravity kicking out a lot of rouge objects like comets or large asteroids so that the little guys in the inner solar system (including the Earth) could be relatively bombardment free.  Jupiter also pulled in a lot of smaller objects including the comets which are believed to have provided the Earth with water. 

It seems to me that a “Hot” Jupiter would have the opposite effect.  Its gravity would end up kicking out the inner planets and by being very close to its star it wouldn’t be able to pull in icy objects from farther out in the system.  Although, really, what the hell do I know?

Side note:  This website used to have an interactive software demo that would allow you to create your own solar system and let it evolve over time.  Nothing too fancy but it was a fun way to kill a few minutes.  The link didn’t work when I tried to access the page not too long ago.  Not sure if they’ve closed up shop or if they’re having web problems.  I hope it’s the second one because I almost ended up interning for those people and they seemed very nice.

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