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Tracking The Origins Of Planets

By James Donahue

We live on a giant spinning collection of rock, dirt, heated lava and water that is one of the eight known planets in our solar system. We know this. What we do not know is how the planets formed the way they did, and why it happened.

The theories range from a magical creation of everything from nothing by a master Creator of All, to a Big Bang that split the heart of a super collection of matter and launched the process that created a universe.

For scientists that want to reject the magical creation of something from nothing and calculate ways in which things might have turned out the way they did, the detailed study of the planets, their moons and all of the other things flying around our Sun has raised more questions than produced answers.

How was it possible, for instance, that the four planets closest to the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. Plus the moons of Earth and Mars are composed of solid rock, while the larger plants farther out in space are gas giants?

From what we know, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune appear to all be giant balls of gas. Some researchers believe, however, that the core of at least Neptune may be a ball of rock. In addition, all of the gas planets are surrounded by many moons, all of them appearing to be made of solid material. Jupiter also hosts a ring of rocks that some researchers believe may be the remnants of a collision of two large astral bodies.

Then there is tiny Pluto and a long list of other ice dwarfs, like Ceres and Iris, that are considered too small to be planets but they also are in orbit around the Sun, and they are comprised of solid material.

In addition to all of the above, our solar system is filled with other flying objects that include comets, asteroids and meteors, many of which fly in orbits so wide that they only visit our solar system once in long historical cycles.

What we have is an amazingly active solar system and universe beyond that. Astronomers do not run out of new things to discover, new questions to ask, and new ideas about what they are looking at when they peer through those increasingly powerful telescopes or study the images being sent back to Earth from various research spacecraft sent to fly by virtually every planet.

In spite of all of this research, and even though we live on one of them, planets are among the more mysterious objects in the universe. No theory can fully explain how collections of dust and gas swirling around fiery Suns form planets and moons. That some of them create rocky formations like the Earth. We don’t know what exists at the core of the planets, even in the Earth.

Astronomers recently used the Hubble Space Telescope and various ground-based observations to record what they believe was the formation of a new planet from debris swirling around Epsilon Eridam, a young sun-like star in the constellation Eridanus. The observation by a team led by Barbara McArthur at the University of Texas was reported in the November, 2010 issue of Astronomical Journal.

While the observation strongly suggests a way in which planets form, it leaves the lingering questions that include how it occurs and why some planets in our solar system came out as spinning balls of rock while others are gas giants. And why do the gas giants have so many rocky moons swirling around them?

An interesting paper, The Original Solar System, by Tom Van Flandern which appears on Meta Research, suggests that there may have been more design to our solar system than astronomers ever realized.

Van Flandern, who suggests that solar fission, or a spin-off of debris from a rapidly spinning early Sun, sent the ingredients off into space that formed the planets, and that additional debris from those rapidly spinning solar fragments then formed the moons now revolving around the planets.

If Van Flandern’s thesis is correct, it still fails to explain what caused the original spiraling and burning gas and matter cloud that launched the creation of the entire solar system.

Van Flandern writes that “in the inner solar system, Mercury is very likely to be an escaped moon of Venus, a thesis for which a great deal of evidence exists.” He also projects a theory that Mars, in turn, may be another escaped moon.

“If we accept these tentative identifications, and exclude the three smallest planetary bodies from consideration, it is interesting to look at what is left by way of true, major planets in the original solar system,” Van Flandern wrote.

“First we have Venus and Earth, both rather similar in mass, composition, solar distance and number of original significant moons. Following the asteroidal gap, we have the two largest gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn, likewise with similar composition and numerous moons, and with masses and solar distances more similar to one another than to any other planet. Next we have another pair of twins, Uranus and Neptune, with similar masses, composition and solar distances.”

Van Flandern suggests that if Pluto and Charon are escaped moons from Neptune, these final two planets would have been created with a similar number of moons, each.

Thus, the author notes that the original planet arrangement in the solar system was marked by three sets of twin planets.

So how cool is that? Putting what we know in perspective, do we dare question the intelligent design of our universe?