Reasons to Believe

Like a Good Neighbor, Gas Giants Are There

My husband and I have experienced a spate of “interesting” next-door neighbors over the last year. As a new set of neighbors recently moved in, I couldn’t help praying they’d turn out to be a nice, normal family—with a sense of volume control. Having grown up surrounded by such families, I appreciate the value of good neighbors.

Similarly, Earth needs good neighbors, too. The solar system’s occupants influence Earth’s ability to support life. Take the gas giant planets, for example.

A planet like Jupiter requires delicate precision of mass and location in order to be beneficial, rather than detrimental, to life on Earth. Any variation to these characteristics in Jupiter would either cause catastrophic gravitational disturbance to Earth’s orbit or expose it to too many comets and asteroids. Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune must also be fine-tuned to stabilize and protect Earth.

In a list entitled “Fine-Tuning for Life on Earth,” RTB astronomer Hugh Ross notes several gas giant features that must be just so to permit life on our own planet:

  1. Jupiter distance [from Earth]
    • if greater: too many asteroid and comet collisions would occur on Earth
    • if less: Earth’s orbit would become unstable
  2. Jupiter mass
    • if greater: Earth’s orbit would become unstable
    • if less: too many asteroid and comet collisions would occur on Earth
  3. drift in major planet distances
    • if greater: Earth’s orbit would become unstable
    • if less: too many asteroid and comet collisions would occur on Earth
  4. major planet eccentricities
    • if greater: orbit of life-supportable planet would be pulled out of life-support zone
  5. major planet orbital instabilities
    • if greater: orbit of life-supportable planet would be pulled out of life-support zone
  6. mass of Neptune
    • if too small: not enough Kuiper Belt Objects (asteroids beyond Neptune) would be scattered out of the solar system
    • if too large: chaotic resonances among the gas giant planets would occur

It intrigues me that, though all named after rather violent, petulant ancient deities, the gas giants serve to protect life from violence (via comets and asteroids) and disruption (via gravitational disturbances). Here at RTB, we believe the extreme precision of the gas giants’ locations, masses, and orbits reflects the work of the loving, faithful God of the Bible.

— Maureen

Resources: Check out these articles from Hugh for more on why it’s important for Earth to be in such good celestial company.

Subjects: Galaxy Design