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If a planet existed in an orbit where the asteroid belt is, would the orbits of all the planets be stable, and what would the climates be like on these planets?

Assuming there could be a planet in that orbit, could there be any scenario where this planet is destroyed and the solar system reaches the state it's in today.

Could the destruction of this planet be used to explain the formation of the Moon?

How early in the formation of the solar system would this have to happen?

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    $\begingroup$ This would depend a lot on the mass of the new planet.... $\endgroup$ – Tim B Nov 14 '14 at 11:26
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    $\begingroup$ doesnt this type of question belong in astronomy.stackexchange.com instead? $\endgroup$ – usethedeathstar Nov 14 '14 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ FYI: it's questionable whether any of the planets in the solar system started out where they are now. And as of now, Jupiter is the only one that we can be reasonably sure has a stable orbit at the scale of billions of years. $\endgroup$ – RBarryYoung Nov 14 '14 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ @usethedeathstar according to their on topic guide, astronomy.SE does not welcome hypothetical questions. $\endgroup$ – trichoplax Nov 14 '14 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @usethedeathstar This question does appear to be on topic. Worldbuilding.SE is for questions about building worlds, on any scale, larger than a multiverse or smaller than a village. There are already plenty of questions tagged solar-system and orbital-mechanics. $\endgroup$ – trichoplax Nov 14 '14 at 21:03
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First of all, orbits aren't stable at all.

Stable relations between two systems assume that the systems do not change at all and are self contained. But other systems take influence, so the probability that orbits are stable are fantastic low.

So remember, that orbits change, even if it takes long time to become measurable.

Also, asteroid belts do not form within seconds and not even years. Asteroid belts, if accumulated asteroids, need millions or billions of years to form. An obsolete theory said that the specific asteroid belt in our solar system has been a planet in the past (link). It's probably wrong in this case, but that doesn't mean it is impossible in a fictional scenario. (Read comments)

This exactly hit's your question due it says, that:

  1. There was an planet on the orbit the asteroid belt is on now.
  2. The planed is destroyed
  3. Our solar system is literally as it is today, lol.

But the creation of the moon is another thing.

There are several theories of how moons arise, examples:

  1. Accumulation solar-dust in planetary orbits Asteroids should also be capable to form to moons, like solar dust. If not even better than dust, due they accumulate faster because of the higher mass. This has the requirement that the planetary poles change rapidly (For universe measurement, say millions of years) If not you would end up with rings like Saturn has.

  2. Small planet gets in orbit of an much bigger planet and becomes a moon that way.

  3. A planet looses a part of his mass due flaking. The flaked part could become a moon.

So assuming that the asteroid belt once was a planet, the fragments surely spread all over the solar system, even if a lot of them still are at the old orbit. Some of the fragments could have formed the earth moon, so your questions could be answered with a clear yes!

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    $\begingroup$ And for the formation of our moon, don't forget the Giant Impact Hypothesis! $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Nov 14 '14 at 23:03
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, which is a combination of 1. and 2. $\endgroup$ – Sempie Nov 17 '14 at 6:02
  • $\begingroup$ "Stable relations between two systems assume that the systems do not change at all and are self contained. But other systems take influence, so the probability that orbits are stable are fantastic low." bullshit. Stable means that given a disturance it goes back to the original state. Which planetary orbits quite frankly do. - Otherwise the object isn't referred to as planet. $\endgroup$ – paul23 Jan 25 at 13:27
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If a planet existed in an orbit where the asteroid belt is, would the orbits of all the planets be stable, and what would the climate be likely to be like ?

There never was a planet there. The influence from Jupiter prevented it. Most of what could have been such a planet's mass was accreted by Jupiter itself or ejected from the orbital plane. Some fractions attached to Jupiter's orbit as trojan asteroids.

But, IF a planet existed there, it would not have affected so much the orbits of the other planets. Firstly because of its own low mass, and secondly because most of the orbital dynamics are caused by Sun. It is true that with more than two bodies there is no exact mathematical solution, but numerical models show that the current Solar System is stable (for the planets) in the long run. There are known perturbations caused by some planets in others (in fact, this is how planet Neptune and dwarf double planet Pluto/Charon were discovered).

Such a planet would have a climate in between that of Mars and Jupiter's moons. Think on very low temperatures. According to Wikipedia: "Martian surface temperatures vary from lows of about −143 °C (at the winter polar caps) to highs of up to 35 °C" and "Ganymede's relatively warm surface temperature of 100 K" (-173C).

Assuming there could be a planet in that orbit, could there be any scenario where this planet is destroyed and the solar system reach the state its in today.

The most probable scenario for the destruction of the hypothetical planet is the onw which actually prevented its formation: orbital instability caused by Jupiter. This can cause the planet to be ejected from its orbit to a very eccectric one, to crash into another planet (most probably Jupiter itself) or to fall to Sun, causing extra perturbations to internal planets. By fine-tuning the parameters you'll end up with a system like ours but mostly without asteroids.

Another scenario, alsocaused by Jupiter, would be that the tidal instability caused the planet to torn apart in pieces. This actually happens when a body goes inside Roche's limit for another body, which for Jupiter is smaller that Io's orbit. Note: Jupiter's influence actually prevented the planet to form, but it is probably not strong enough to tear it apart after it would have formed.

Could the destruction of this planet be used to explain the formation of the moon, how early in the formation of the solar system would this have to happen?

In true science, no. Moon being formed by a big impact on Earth is a real possibility, but the size of the incoming body is supposed to be like that of Mars, much bigger than the aggregated size of all asteroids in the asteroid belt. But supposing that the planet once existed, yes, it could have been ejected from its orbit by Jupiter in the very early Solar System, while it was half its accretion process (and thus left some unaccreted debris which are the current belt) and impact the half-formed Earth. In this modified big impact hypothesis your planet would occupy the place of Theia.

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Quite simply put: if there were a planet there the orbits of the other planets would be different.
How different, well, that would depend heavily on the planet.
But given the narrowness of the habitable zone it's quite conceivable that the earth would no longer be inside the zone.

As orbit influences length of year, seasons, climate, it's impossible to tell without creating a mathematical model of the resulting system with the exact orbits what exactly the influence will be.

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    $\begingroup$ narrowness? Habitable zone spreads more or less from Venus' orbit to Mars' orbit. $\endgroup$ – Envite Nov 14 '14 at 12:47
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    $\begingroup$ The definition of Habitable Zone is that zone of space wher ther could be liquid water. Counting with atmospheres, it is as I said mostly from Venus to Mars. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$ – Envite Nov 14 '14 at 12:52
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    $\begingroup$ It is too hot on Venus due to its heavy atmosphere. It would be near useable with a thin atmosphere. Same but reversed for Mars. $\endgroup$ – Envite Nov 14 '14 at 14:05
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    $\begingroup$ @jwenting: Currently NASA claims that the mean temperature of Mercury is colder than Venus. If "influx of solar radiation" were the only reason Venus is so hot, I would expect it to be colder than Mercury. What should I be reading to get the facts? $\endgroup$ – David Cary Nov 14 '14 at 17:59
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    $\begingroup$ Venus has an atmosphere, so even though it gets less heat in per day than Mercury, it traps that heat against the planet due to its thick atmosphere that blocks IR. Mercury has no atmosphere and radiates away its heat faster. $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Nov 14 '14 at 19:25
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Unfortunately, if you want the Moon to be the same as it is in the real world, this will be a problem. The problem is the distribution of the elements & their ratios is the same as it is for Earth. Which means the Moon shared elements with the Earth at some point in history. Massive flow or major impact.

We've got some theories on how we got our moon, but none of them answers all the questions given our current state of knowledge.

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