Do you ever wonder the whole “asteroid” killed the dinosaur incident could happen all over again? Maybe… But, with the current space conditions, I think armageddon by asteroid strike is at the bottom of the list.
Scientists believe that Jupiter and Saturn’s gravity helps stabilize the solar system including Earth. It protects us from asteroids and comets strike. Not just that, recent study shows that Jupiter played a vital role in the development of life on Earth. Tom Barclay, NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California says, “If you don’t have giant planets in your solar system, you have a very, very different planetary system.”
He pointed out that, our Moon formation was a result of a massive asteroid impact and would happen more frequently if it weren’t for the gas giants in our solar systems. He also believes, any other solar system that are eligible to be potentially habitable may not form life if it doesn’t have a giant gas planet in its system.
Its not just that these planets are huge in size, but also significant for its location in our solar system, far from the Sun. Due to its higher orbital periods than Earth, it has a enormous space between them and the Sun which can accommodate smaller planets in-between. This inner region, is called the habitable zone in astronomy, where there is enough liquid water for life to evolve – without which as we know, life is not possible. Fact: Venus was once like Earth, which is now too hot for any life to sustain. Read my article Venus here. And the jury is still out on Mars. We will just have to wait.
Understanding this about our solar system has helped the scientists in looking for habitable planets in other planetary systems. So, if there are any other gas giants orbiting a star at the same AU as ours, without any other gas giants and if there’s any small planets in the inner system, that would be a target to look for habitable planets.
So, the methods our scientific technology uses is a technique called “Doppler spectroscopy.” This method doesn’t not observe the planet directly but looks for its gravity has on the motion of the star it orbits. The telescope looks for movements that affect the star’s light spectrum or color signature. If the star is moving towards the observer (telescope), then there is a shift in the color pattern. This would mean that there is exo-planet around a distant star. Dr. Alan Boss, a researcher in planetary formation from Carnegie Institution of Washington, says “We can infer the presence of planets indirectly by observing the wobble of a star in space caused by its motion around the center of the system.”