Friday, February 25, 2011

Did Earth Share Its' Orbit? Data Points to Yes

In the distant past, did Earth share the same orbital path with a Mars sized Planet? New data from the Kepler telescope seems to point in that direction.

Kepler has uncovered a planetary system with two planets that orbit their primary at exactly the same distance. This discovery would support support the theory that Earth once shared its orbit with a Mars-sized body, that later collided with it, creating the moon.

What makes this seem plausible is the dynamics of the system uncovered by Kepler. Each planet's orbit contains two orbital "safe zones" that are gravitationally balanced. At 60 degrees ahead and 60 degrees behind a planet in orbit are Lagrange points (I know, yes there ARE two more, one between the planet and the sun and one that exists an equal distance further distance from the sun) Kepler's discovery has the planets in each other's Lagrangian points 60 degrees forward or behind, depending on your frame of reference.

Read the complete Daily Galaxy article here


Christopher said...

Sounds plausible. Maybe the Moon came from this other planet?

Dave Tackett said...

It's interesting that they share an orbit via Lagrange points and not via switching orbits like Janus and Epimetheus. This means that there are at least two observed ways for planets or moons to naturally share orbits.

More importantly though, a big congratulations for your 250th podcast. Quite an accomplishment!

Beam Me Up said...

Hi Dave! What freaks me out is that instead of small amounts of matter at the L points we have planet class objects. Up until I read this article I would have thought that something this massive would not have a stable orbit. But with the results from the telescope...anything seems possible!

Ahhhhhh 250! yes, a bit of a milestone that huh! I tell you what though, if I didnt have great support from people like yourself, I don't think I would have lasted. Fifth year anniversary comes up in May.