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I want to know how changing some of the planets in our Solar System might affect the rest of the solar system.

Introduction

Compared to the planets we have discovered in the past decade, our solar system seems...ordinary. It was thought that no planet could get any closer to the sun than Mercury, let alone one the size of Jupiter. It was thought that Earth is the largest it could get with the right gravity and atmosphere to harbor life. It was thought that no planet could get any bigger or heavier than Jupiter.

In this scenario, I present to you an alternate solar system. The names listed below are not the actual names that I chose for my alternate universe, but rather the planets that inspired them.

Details

One--55 Cancri e

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Diameter--2x that of Earth

Mass--8x that of Earth

Distance from the sun--5.5 million miles (0.06 AU, 13 solar radii)

Two--Gliese 581 c

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Diameter--1.75x that of Earth

Mass--5.5x that of Earth

Distance from the sun--65 million miles (0.70 AU)

Three--Earth

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Four--GJ 1214b

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Diameter--2.6x that of Earth

Mass--7x that of Earth

Distance from the sun--141.6 million miles (1.5 AU)

Five through Seven--a mix of HD106906b and WASP-17b

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Diameter--1.9x that of Jupiter, 1.9x that of Saturn and 1.9x that of Uranus

Mass--11x that of Jupiter, 11x that of Saturn and 11x that of Uranus

Distance from the Sun--500 million miles, 900 million miles and two billion miles (5.4, 9.7, and 22 AU)

Question

  • Would any of these changes affect orbit dramatically, or not by much?
  • Would we still have an asteroid belt separating inner from outer planets?
  • What would the day/night sky look like?
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closed as unclear what you're asking by o.m., Hohmannfan, Monty Wild, bilbo_pingouin, Jaywalker Apr 11 '16 at 7:50

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ I am not entirely sure what the question is here, can you clarify please? $\endgroup$ – James Apr 5 '16 at 18:27
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    $\begingroup$ "Would any of these changes affect orbit dramatically, or not by much? Would we still have an asteroid belt separating inner from outer planets? What would the day/night sky look like?" How could this get more clarified? $\endgroup$ – JohnWDailey Apr 5 '16 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ John, I'm editing your question slightly to highlight the questions. Feel free to roll them back if you don't like the edits. $\endgroup$ – Jim2B Apr 5 '16 at 19:12
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    $\begingroup$ What does that have to do with lakes? $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Apr 5 '16 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ That's the name of my alternate Earth. $\endgroup$ – JohnWDailey Apr 5 '16 at 22:19
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I notice that you've basically replaced every planet (except Earth) in the solar system with a larger one while leaving them in roughly the same orbits. Here is what I think would happen.

  • Gravitational perturbations would still be minimal... They had better be, or the solar system may destabilize. Effect on tides will be vanishingly small.
  • The planets will look a lot bigger and brighter at night, especially the inner ones. I suppose they might then take a more prominent place in the human psyche/mythology. Cancri e, or should I say Super-Mercury, would be an especially interesting addition to the pantheon, being drastically bigger and brighter than anything in the current night sky, except for the moon. It's too close to the sun to be seen during the daytime, or anytime except sunrise or sunset, but it might be quite noticeable at those times. My calculations indicate it would complete an orbit in a little over five days... So you might see it at sunset on Friday, then not at all on Saturday, and then it would pop up just before sunrise on Sunday or Monday. No doubt the ancient theologians would spin all kinds of stories out of that.
  • There might or might not still be an asteroid belt. I suspect not. Likely, Super-Mars and Super-Jupiter, between them, would have swept up all those rocks with their massive gravity.
  • Side note: you might have to re-examine the relationship between planet mass and radius as you get into the gas giants: it ceases to be what you'd expect. Increasing gravity condenses that diffuse material until, at some critical volume, the planet actually starts shrinking as it becomes heavier. Jupiter is already close to that threshold; observe how the relative masses and diameters of Jupiter and Saturn don't seem to add up, even though they have almost the same composition. See gas giants on Wikipedia.
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  • $\begingroup$ "Increasing gravity condenses that diffuse material until, at some critical volume, the planet actually starts shrinking as it becomes heavier. Jupiter is already close to that threshold; observe how the relative masses and diameters of Jupiter and Saturn don't seem to add up, even though they have almost the same composition." Tell that to HD106906b. $\endgroup$ – JohnWDailey Apr 5 '16 at 21:18
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    $\begingroup$ I've added a link to the Wikipedia article where that information came from. Caveat: what I said holds true for planets at a temperature similar to Jupiter's... A hotter planet will be larger. HD106906b is still hot from its relatively recent formation, and so presumably it's larger in volume than Jupiter. However... I couldn't find any references to the radius (as opposed to mass) of HD106906b. Is it possible that some reporter wrote "11 times the size of Jupiter" when they should have said "11 times the mass"? p.s. You may like this site: exoplanet.eu/catalog $\endgroup$ – Joanna Marietti Apr 6 '16 at 3:47
  • $\begingroup$ youtube.com/watch?v=0FsQ-v8Tec4 $\endgroup$ – JohnWDailey Apr 12 '16 at 23:45
  • $\begingroup$ If you watch the video again, you may notice that around 5:25 the planet Wasp 17b is introduced as the largest ever discovered... at 1.9x the "size" of Jupiter. Clearly that isn't the same kind of "size" as before, or else HD106906b, at 11x Jupiter, would have been the "largest". Whoever made this video neglected to differentiate between "mass" and "diameter"... Here are the best known stats for those two planets. exoplanet.eu/catalog/hd_106906_b exoplanet.eu/catalog/wasp-17_b It is a cool video, though. Very intriguing, even if slightly inaccurate. $\endgroup$ – Joanna Marietti Apr 13 '16 at 5:31

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