Jupiter May Be To Blame For The Fate Of Our Solar System’s Missing Planet

Scientists have long suspected that our solar system was once home to a mysterious planet — similar to the four giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — but something happened about four billion years ago that caused the planet to disappear.

Now, a team of astrophysicists in Toronto have made significant steps towards solving the mystery.

According to new research, published in the latest issue of The Astronomical Journal, a collision with Jupiter resulted in the ancient planet being ejected from our solar system.

“This is consistent with our expectation that if you want to eject a planet from the solar system, then you likely need a massive planet,” Ryan Cloutier, a Ph.D candidate in the University of Toronto’s department of astronomy and astrophysics and lead author of the new research, told The Huffington Post in an email. “Although our results may not have been that surprising, I was very excited.”

The researchers created computer simulations of our solar system’s four giant planets and their moons, including Jupiter’s moon Callisto and Saturn’s moon Iapetus.

In a process of elimination, the researchers then measured whether each moon in the solar system would have still followed its current orbit if its host planet was responsible for ejecting the ancient lost planet some four billion years ago.

The researchers found that Jupiter, the largest world in our solar system, was the only one capable of ejecting the lost planet while retaining the current orbits of its moons.

For instance, in order for Saturn to have ejected the long-lost planet, the collision of the two planets would have been so violent that Iapetus’s orbit around Saturn would have been thrown off course.

“Conversely,” Cloutier said, “if you run the same experiment with Jupiter you find that Jupiter is capable of ejecting the fifth —> Read More