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Jupiter Played a Major Role in Shaping the Solar System, Research Suggests

posted: 03/24/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
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Jupiter went on a destructive rampage through the solar system before settling into its current orbit, a new study reveals.

Astronomers from the University of California Santa Cruz extrapolated another leading theory, the "Grand Tack", which states that the formation of Saturn caused Jupiter to reverse course from its previous orbit and migrate to its present spot in the solar system.

New research suggests that, in doing so, Jupiter's gravitational pull allegedly swept smaller nascent planets into overlapping orbits, resulting in major celestial collisions and ultimate destruction of most of those planets.

"It's the same thing we worry about if satellites were to be destroyed in low-Earth orbit. Their fragments would start smashing into other satellites and you'd risk a chain reaction of collisions. Our work indicates that Jupiter would have created just such a collisional cascade in the inner solar system," said Dr. Gregory Laughlin of UC Santa Cruz in a news release.

Click here for the full story from the University of California Santa Cruz

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