Scientists have figured out how to make the Earth even more favorable for life

Scientists have figured out how to make the Earth even more favorable for life

A change in Jupiter's orbit could make Earth more hospitable than it is today, according to a new study.

An alternative solar system built by UC Riverside researchers suggests that Earth's orbit would change if Jupiter's orbit became more eccentric, which in turn would make Earth more habitable.


Scientists have figured out how to make the Earth even more favorable for life

There has long been speculation about Earth's habitable range, as explained in a recently published peer-reviewed study titled System Architecture and Planetary Inclination: Implications for Long-Term Habitability, authored by UCR Earth and planetary scientist Pam Wervoort.

“Many are convinced that Earth is the epitome of a habitable planet and that any change in Jupiter's orbit, being a massive planet, can only be bad for Earth,” Wervoort said.

But according to a study published in the Astronomical Journal, it's possible that changing Jupiter's orbit could be good for Earth, perhaps making it more hospitable than it is today. While there are a number of planets with perfectly circular orbits around their stars, most planets have eccentric or oval orbits. This means that the distance between the star and the planet changes, which affects its climate, because the planet receives more heat as it approaches its star.

Therefore, seeing that the Earth is habitable in areas with temperatures from zero to 100 degrees Celsius, freezing surfaces must be warmer so that life forms can live on them. In order for these frozen surfaces to heat up, they need to get closer to the sun sometimes. The way to achieve this by putting their temperatures in the habitable range is to make the Earth's orbit more eccentric.

“If Jupiter's position remained the same, but the shape of its orbit has changed, this could actually increase the habitability of this planet, ”Vervoort explained.

If Jupiter's orbit became more eccentric, Earth's orbit would become more eccentric, allowing more of Earth's colder surfaces to become warm. In other words, this change in the Earth's orbit, caused by a change in the orbit of Jupiter, would allow most of the Earth's surface to become a place for life.

After analyzing these results, the researchers realized that they could be used to search for exoplanets or habitable planets around others stars.

Study co-author and UCR astrophysicist Stephen Cain explains that the first thing people look for in these searches says: “The first thing people look for when looking for exoplanets is the habitable zone, the distance between the star and the planet, to see if there is enough energy on the surface of the planet to liquid water.”

“While liquid water is an important component of life, it is not the only factor. The presence of water on the surface is a very simple first indicator, and it does not take into account the shape of the planet's orbit or seasonal changes that can be observed on the planet, ”explains Kane.

Just like on Earth, other planets also have seasons. These seasons are created based on the amount of sunlight that different parts of the planet receive, which depends on its orbit. This affects how habitable the planet is because temperatures across the planet can vary dramatically, being extremely cold in one part and unbearably hot in another.

There is another factor to this. , which must be taken into account when discussing the habitability of the planet. The degree to which part of the planet is tilted away from or towards the star affects that part of the planet's energy, causing its temperature to change. For example, the part of the planet that is tilted towards the star will be hotter because it will receive more energy.

Thus, the researchers recognize that although Jupiter can make the Earth more habitable, it can also make the opposite. If Jupiter were closer to the Sun, this would cause the Earth to tilt unusually, causing large areas of the Earth to freeze.