One astronomer believes that Jupiter, instead of protecting the earth from dangerous comets and asteroids, is actively launching objects toward the internal solar system. New research now demonstrates this complex process in action.
A popular theory suggests that Jupiter, with its tremendous mass, acts as a gigantic shield in space, sucking in or diverting dangerous debris left over from the formation of the solar system. But Jupiter’s Shield theory, as it is known, has been undermined for the past two decades.
A key critic of this theory, Kevin Grazier, a former member of the US West Point Military Academy and NASA, has been trying to debunk this idea for years. He has published several studies on the subject, including a 2008 article entitled “Jupiter as a Sniper Rather Than a Shield(Jupiter as a Sniper Instead of a Shield. ‘In fact, with each successive article, Grazier has increasingly demonstrated the ways in which Jupiter, instead of being our protector, is actually – albeit indirectly – a pernicious threat. .
Grazier’s last foray into the subject involves a couple of complementary articles, one published in Astronomical Journal in 2018 and another in Monthly Notices from Royal Astronomical Journal in 2019.
The first article looks at the complex ways in which objects in the outer solar system are affected by the Jovian planets, such as Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus, while the second article looks at a specific family of frozen bodies and how they are transformed by Jupiter into potentially comets. mortal. Looking at the conclusions of both works, it seems that Jupiter’s Shield theory is at serious risk.
Grazier told the Gizmodo in an email:
Actually, I wouldn’t say you’re at risk – I’d say you were put to rest. Our simulations show that Jupiter is as likely to send comets on Earth as it is to deflect them, and we have seen it in the real solar system.
To be clear, this was a very good thing when the earth was young, as comets and asteroids provided the essential ingredients needed for life. Today, however, these impacts are certainly not good, as they could trigger mass extinctions similar to those that extinguished non-avian dinosaurs about 66 million years ago.
Grazier’s work presents new models that demonstrate the complex astrophysical processes required to convert distant celestial bodies into local threats. Working with collaborators from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Southern Queensland, Grazier showed how objects on the scattered disk, a ring within the Kuiper Belt that contains many planetsimates approaching Neptune, are influenced by the Jovian planets. . They also show how Centaurs, a group of frozen orbiting bodies beyond Jupiter and Neptune, are transformed by Jupiter into potentially threatening Earth comets, specifically a collection of objects known as the Jupiter Family Comets…