Solar Systems Dynamics



John Jaksich


Comparative studies of planetary origins entered an exciting era of research when exo-planets were discovered orbiting other stars. Not only did astronomers have our Solar System to study, explore and ponder, they had unique opportunities to attempt to study exo-solar system dynamics. The puzzle of our Solar System’s origins is one of many actively studied problems at the forefront of astronomy research. The discovery of exo-planets orbiting other stars provided the opportunity to understand the dynamics of exo-solar system evolution—as well as our own Solar System.


  • 1995: First exo-planet discovered orbiting star 51 Peg (Mayor & Queloz (1995))

  • 1995: Confirmation of 51 Peg (Marcy & Butler–(1995))

  • 2005: Approximately 150 exo-planets discovered via Doppler “wobble” technique in a 10 year period (Marcy et al (2005))

  • 2010: Citizen Science application, Planet Hunters commenced (

  • 2013: Approximately 1 in 6 Stars has an Earth-sized planet (see related illustration and associated link)







Early on, discoveries of exo-planets uncovered large Jupiter-sized planets orbiting close to exo-solar suns. However, when examining our solar system, there seems to be a certain orderliness that underlies an anthropocentric logic. The Earth is close to the Sun, along with three other terrestrial planets. While the Jovian planets, also, are grouped together, it seems rather symmetrical—in a certain selfish logic, or dare I say justified by virtue of self justification. Recent publications discuss “planetary migration” as a phenomenon for the ordering of terrestrial, rocky planets near the Sun and explore exo-solar system planet ordering, as well. Astronomers agree there is no anthropocentric, natural law which guided our 3rd place from the Sun existence. However, the discovery of large exo-solar planets near their respective stars fueled a debate of why are we lucky enough to be in the habitable zone of our Solar System? (Perhaps, an answer will come in due time.)


In a research paper written by Kevin J. Walsh and Allessandro Morbidelli, )(2011) (Nice, France) their computations indicate a substantial need to know how the early Solar System bodies interacted. So much so—that prior models cannot reproduce currently known data of the early Solar System evolution. In a later publication by Morbidelli and Konstantin Batygin (2013), the authors indicate that studies of other “solar systems” have undergone significant evolutionary processes [my interpretations based on literature inference in bold] to the point where it is not unheard of to find so-called Kuiper belt objects and comets in these so-called extra-solar systems. (It really is time to follow the water?)


(Literature references at end)

The recent publication of earth-like planets in nearby “habitable zones” would seem to portend that exo-solar systems (similar to our Solar System) undergo similar evolutionary processes whereby habitable and non-habitable planets would exist. So our “exo-solar system,” neighbors may exist next door—but we still do not know how or what to do to find them—a definite need for better ways to (brainstorming ?) learn to search intelligent life beyond home ?

Literature References:

Paragraph 1:

Mayor & Queloz, 1995 Nature, 378, 355.

(Available from Nature website per pay)

Marcy & Butler, 1995 American Astronomical Society Meeting—Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, Vol 27, p1379.

(Abstract available from

Marcy etal, 2005 Progress of Theoretical Physics Supplement, No 158. (Available at Physics e-print server)

arXiv: 0505003v2 [astro-ph] 13 Jun 2005

Literature References:

Paragraph 3:

Walsh & Morbidelli, 2011 (Available from Physics e-print server)

arXiv:1101.3776v1 [astro-ph.EP] 19 Jan 2011

Batygin & Morbidelli, 2013 Astronomical Journal, Vol 145 No 1

(Available from website: IOP science per pay)

Literature References:

Final Paragraph:

Booth etal, How Common are Extrasolar, Late Heavy Bombardments?

(Available from Physics e-print server)

arXiv:0911.3271v1 [astro-ph.EP] 17 Nov 2009

Gaspar etal, The Low Level of Debris Disk Activity at the Time of the Late Heavy Bombardment: A Spitzer Study of Praesepe,

(Available from Physics e-print server)

arXiv:0903.4193v1 [astro-ph.SR] 24 Mar 2009

Lisse etal, Spitzer Evidence for a Late Heavy Bombardment and the Formation of Urelites in η Corvi at 1 Gyr

(available at Physics e-print server)

arXiv:1110.4172 [astro-ph.SR] 2012

4 thoughts on “Solar Systems Dynamics

  1. tarun

    Nice one…it indeed has an aesthetic appeal to the search of extra-terrestrial life. But do you think that we may be looking for wrong things at (may be) the right places. I mean, we look at the things we want to look at them e.g. to search for a life, we look for water. I dunno I may be wrong, but then Universe is too big to confine it into rules.

    1. jaksichja Post author

      Water seems to be the safest way to search for life, currently. Carbon in the molecular forms of DNA, proteins, and all of what we understand–again–seems to be the surest way to answer our questions of life’s origins. Personally, I am unsure if we truly know how–or if other life (in the Universe) will be similar to our own paradigms of description.

      Knowing how earthly life formed is possibly (imho) the first jumping off point for an eventual understanding of our place in the web of life. . . . I could go on and on and on . . . It may seem like plodding, but no one seems to have a better answer at this point.


      1. tarun

        yes John, exactly the way that life we may find there, is not possible to be foreseen…the only way, at this point of time, is to continue doing what we are doing.

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