Previously, it was believed that the Solar System took shape known today 700 million years after it started forming. The belief furtherly changed, and scientists began to think it dates more than that. It gained the identified features in the first 10 to 80 million years after it was born.
Three Brazilian researchers affiliated with São Paulo State University’s Engineering School (FEG-UNESP) in Guaratinguetá (Brazil) embraced the newer theory and recently brought some proof.
At first, it was the Sun. Then, dust and gases started to mingle, and the planets began to bring shape. They were a bit different at first until they understood how the Universe is supposed to work.
The orbits were more co-planar and circular than they are today, or more compact in the giant’s case. Back then, giant Jupiter was completing three revolutions around the Sun and giant Saturn, two. They were more synchronized and had more interconnected in resonant dynamics. And then came chaos.
Giant Planets Made The Solar System Behave As We Know It Today
Outer planetesimal disk imbalanced the gravitational field, and the resonance became unharmonious. The giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, showed their true violent selves by throwing internal matter into space. It is when Pluto got into the Kuiper Belt, currently known as its residence.
“The starting point for our study was the idea that the instability should be dated dynamically. The instability can only have happened later if there was a relatively large distance between the inner edge of the disk of planetesimals and Neptune’s orbit when the gas was exhausted. This relatively large distance proved unsustainable in our simulation,” said lead author Rafael Ribeiro de Sousa.
So, the distance between Neptune’s orbit and the inner boundary of the planetesimal disk seems to be essential to the Solar System as we know it. Neptune and Uranus fed on the planetesimal disk until they became the giants they are, and the leftovers of the disk became the Kuiper Belt. At this time, the other two giants, Saturn and Jupiter, were smaller youngsters, and they didn’t have a say in this.