Rotating Question Curious About Astronomy? Ask an Astronomer

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

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. We have to remember that the techniques that we use are best suited to finding such planets, and are completely unsuited to finding small planets like Earth. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that those big, close-in planets are the ones we find. When techniques improve to the point where we can easily detect Jupiter- and Saturn- sized planets at Jupiter- and Saturn- like distances from stars, then we can start to talk about how odd we are. We will probably have such technology in the next couple of years.

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.

January 1999, Dave Kornreich (more by Dave Kornreich) (Like this Answer)

Still Curious?

Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:

Related questions:

More questions about Extrasolar Planets: Previous | Next

More questions about Planets: Previous | Next

How to ask a question:

If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.

Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist

URL: http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=198
This page has been accessed 33811 times since September 6, 2002.
Last modified: October 18, 2005 7:22:12 PM

Legal questions? See our copyright, disclaimer and privacy policy.
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.

Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)