Venus likely wouldn’t have been a waterless hellscape currently if Jupiter didn’t alter its orbit around the sun, research from UC Riverside suggests.
Jupiter has a mass that is approximately two-and-a-half times bigger than all other planets in our solar system put together.
As it is so gigantic, it has the power to affect other planets’ orbits.
Early during its formation phase, Jupiter moved closer to and then away from the sun because of interactions with the disc from which planets form. Unfortunately, that movement affected Venus.
Observations of other planetary systems have revealed that similar giant planet migrations soon after being formed might be a relatively common happening.
Those are among the discoveries of a new study published in the Planetary Science Journal.
Scientists label planets lacking liquid water incapable of hosting life as we are used to it.
Though Venus lost a lot of water early on due to specific reasons, it might have kept doing so anyway. UCR astrobiologist Stephen Kane claimed that Jupiter’s movement probably triggered Venus onto a path towards its actual, inhospitable state.
“One of the interesting things about the Venus of today is that its orbit is almost perfectly circular.”
“With this project, I wanted to explore whether the orbit has always been circular and if not, what are the implications of that?” he asked himself.
To respond to these questions, claimed developed a model that simulated the solar system, determining the location of all the planets at any time and how they affect each other in different directions.
“As Jupiter migrated, Venus would have gone through dramatic changes in climate, heating up then cooling off and increasingly losing its water into the atmosphere,” Kane said.