Why is our solar system so different from all the others we've found? (Intermediate)

I was just curious; thinking. I have read that there is evidence of other solar systems in this universe, out of these new solar systems found none resemble ours; in addition, none have included a planet similar to earth. It was said that our solar system is an "oddball". Is it possible that our unique solar system and the way the planets rotate, revolve, pull, etc. helped to form the planet earth--because we can not find a solar system similar to ours, we can not find a planet similar to earth. Also is it possible that the rotations, revolutions, and pulls within our solar system effect our weather changes?

I wouldn't be so quick to call our Solar System an oddball. It's true that many of the planets we've found around other stars are very large and very close to their stars, unlike our Solar System, but we are now at the point where we are starting to see multiple planet system that look more and more like our Solar System.  As technology improves, we will most likely star to see systems just like ours.

As far as the other planets affecting the formation of Earth, and our weather systems, the answers are "not much," and "definitely not." We know that Jupiter's gravity would not have let a planet form in the asteroid belt, for instance, but at Earth-like distances from Jupiter, its gravity is miniscule. Jupiter may, however, occasionally knock asteroids out of their orbits and send them into the inner solar system, towards Earth, and it may act as a "Comet Shield," gravitationally tugging comets away from Earth. So Jupiter's presence may increase the probability of asteroid strikes on Earth, and decrease the probability of comet strikes.

While the Moon's gravity is critical in creating the tides we encounter on Earth, the gravity of all the other planets and moons combined is nowhere near even a fraction of a percent the gravity of the sun. Their influence isn't even noticable on the orbit of the Earth, let alone its weather.



This page updated on July 18, 2015.

About the Author

Dave Kornreich

Dave was the founder of Ask an Astronomer. He got his PhD from Cornell in 2001 and is now an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Physical Science at Humboldt State University in California. There he runs his own version of Ask the Astronomer. He also helps us out with the odd cosmology question.

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