Our Solar System is in a delicate balance to keep all planets in place. However, if only one planet disappeared from the Solar System, the consequences will be surprisingly mild despite your fear. Let’s go into that now.
The Terrestrial Planets
The inner 4 planets in the Solar System are all rocky and small. Also, smaller (less massive) objects have less gravitational pull, right? Therefore, the disappearance of just one rocky planet won’t do any harm in the short term. They can only disrupt the orbits of the inner planets for a tiny bit that’s not enough to kick Earth out of the habitable zone.
The disappearance of some planets may even do more good than harm. For instance, if Mercury disappeared, the planets’ orbits would be altered by the slightest bit compared to other inner planets since it’s the least massive.
Although a change in Mercury’s orbit will cause the change in Mars’s orbit, the chances of a future planetary collision will be significantly decreased if things settled down peacefully.
Mars is standing between Earth and the asteroid belt. Thus, it has the right to protect Earth, right? Not necessarily. Other than hitting the planet, it may also slingshot some space rocks to make it closer to Earth at the point of intersection.
On the bright side, an asteroid may narrowly miss our planet due to its slingshot. Furthermore, Mars brings us enormous opportunities for scientific explorations.
Do you think it’s positive or negative if Mars disappeared from the Solar System? Let us know in the comments!
The Gas Giants
Meanwhile, the gas giants will be much more dangerous if they vanished. Specifically, we’ll focus on Jupiter, which plays the most significant role in protecting life on Earth of the planets in the Solar System.
Although Jupiter is far away, it is remotely preventing us from being hit by asteroids. Because of its powerful gravity, it sucks many asteroids coming toward itself.
A famous example is Shoemaker-Levy 9. When the comet got too close to Jupiter while it’s probably in orbit, it is split into more than 20 pieces. Afterward, in 1994, they crashed into Jupiter’s atmosphere one by one. The harsh environment means the demise of the fragments of the original comet.
If Jupiter does not exist, substantially more asteroids will crash onto Earth. That means there will have more massive and destructive ones, and the asteroids may disrupt the evolution of life.
Saturn has the same purpose as Jupiter, too. However, it does not hurt that much if Saturn disappears because it is further from Earth and the asteroid belt.
We explained what if one planet disappeared from the Solar System in this article. For the consequences of Earth being alone in the Solar System, there’s another page for that!
References and Credits
- (2019, December 19). In Depth | P/Shoemaker-Levy 9 – NASA Solar System Exploration. Retrieved January 27, 2021, from https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/small-bodies/comets/p-shoemaker-levy-9/in-depth/
- Bright Side. (2019, November 15). What If Just One Planet Disappeared from the Solar System – YouTube. Retrieved January 27, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFAvLx6kZUM
- Ridddle. (2020, May 13). What If All the Planets Collided? – YouTube. Retrieved January 27, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSZaE2IZCDE
- What If. (2019, November 19). What If Earth Was the Only Planet in the Solar System? – YouTube. Retrieved January 27, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmLbR6cogH0
- What If. (2020, June 18). What If Jupiter Never Existed? – YouTube. Retrieved January 27, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyFzysA8cew