Tony Smith's Home Page

Solar System:

| Stability | Angular Momentum |

| Egyptian Gods |


Radius Orbit   Sun 696,000 km Mercury 2,439 km 0.39 AU Venus 6,051 km 0.72 AU Earth and Moon 6,378 km; 1,738 km 1 AU; 384,400 km Mars 3,393 km 1.52 AU Asteroids 466 km (for Ceres, the largest) Jupiter 71,492 km 5.20 AU Saturn 60,268 km 9.54 AU Uranus 25,559 km 19.19 AU Neptune 24,764 km 30.06 AU Pluto and Charon 1,500 km; 595 km 29.7 to 49.3 AU Comets and a Distant Planet
The sidereal periods of the planets in terms of half a Mercury year, are, very roughly (i.e., within a few percent):     Mercury 2 Venus 5 Earth 8 Mars 16 = 8x 2 asteroids 32 = 8x 4 (mostly from 8x3 to 8x6) Jupiter 96 = 8x 12 = 8x3x4 = 24x4 Saturn 224 = 8x 28 = 8x7x4x1 Uranus 672 = 8x 84 = 8x7x4x3 Neptune 1,344 = 8x168 = 8x7x4x6    

Just as the Moon stabilizes the Earth's axis,

the Earth stabilizes the inner planets Mercury and Venus.

Computer simulations (see AWandST; 3 Feb 97 p. 62) by Kimmo Innanen at York in Toronto, Canada, and Seppo Mikkola at the University of Turku, Finland, show that:

if Mercury were alone, its orbital eccentricity would be 0.6;

if Venus were added to Mercury, the orbit of Mercury would be stabilized, but Venus "goes wild" with orbital eccentricity 0.8;

but if Earth is added to Venus and Mercury, all three planets behave as we now observe.

However, their orbits are chaotic in the sense that their positions cannot be practically predicted for 20,000 years.

Innen and Mikkola also found a new stable orbit around Earth, while they were studying the question "why is the inner Solar System so empty?" Most of their computer test particles fell quickly into either the Sun or one of the planets, but they found a class of elliptical orbits around Earth in which test particles would stay stably for millions of years. The orbital ellipses have the Earth at one focus, have planes inclined no more than 3 to 4 degrees from the plane of the Earth's orbit, with major axis tangent to the Earth's orbit, about 100 times the semi-major axis of the Moon's orbit, and minor axis about 50 times the semi-major axis of the Moon's orbit.

The semi-major axis of the Moon's orbit is about 384,000 km, the semi-major axis of the Earth's orbit is about 150,000,000 km, and the semi-major axis of Venus's orbit is about 108,000,000 km, so that the new orbit extends about half-way to Venus's orbit.

Could a large object in such an orbit have remained in the Earth/Moon system, until Venus was in the right position for it to have entered a "figure-8" orbit involving Earth and Venus, and then, perhaps about 500 million years ago, collided with Venus?


Angular Momentum of Stars and Planets

and connections between Gravity and Electromagnetism


The presence of a magnetic field at Mercury may be due to its iron core, which is about as large as that of Earth even though Mercury is much smaller than Earth and contains little light rock.

The magnetosphere of Mercury extends about 3,500 km toward the Sun from the center of the planet.

Could one of the large objects have collided with Mercury about 4,400 million years ago, ejecting light rock which fell into the Sun, but leaving (and perhaps adding to) its iron core, which produces its magnetic field?

The Caloris Basin of Mercury has a diameter of 1,300 km. Antipodal to the Caloris Basin is an area of chaotic terrain. Duncan Steel hypothesizes "... When Caloris was formed [by collision impact], huge seismic waves were focused through the interior of Mercury, meeting at the antipodal point and breaking up the smooth terrain ..."




The lack of a magnetic field at Venus may be due to its slow (243 day) rotation.

The rotation of Venus is retrograde, unlike the rotation of Mercury, Earth, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune.

The tilt of Venus's rotational axis is only about 3 degrees, which, because of retrograde rotation, is usually expressed as about -177 degrees.

The 224 day sidereal year of Venus is roughly twice the 116.8 day solar day on Venus

Since the 584 day synodic year of Venus is 5x116.8, Venus always turns the same face to Earth at inferior conjunction.

The surface of Venus is young, only about 500 million years old, and may have been completely reformed at that time.

Could a large object have avoided collision until about 500 million years ago, and then collided with Venus, causing its slow retrograde rotation, and consequently no magnetic field, and also reforming its surface crust?


 Earth spin (red) and magnetic field (yellow), from Universe, 4th ed, by William Kaufmann, Freeman 1994:

Earth and Moon:

The Earth was formed about 4,600 million years ago.

According to Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan (Comet, Ballantine 1997), comets impacting the Earth during its first few hundred million years could have deposited enough water to cover the Earth's surface to a depth of 6 meters, not to mention deposting organic and other material. In Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, Vol. 98, Issue 3, 809-814, January 30, 2001, Jonathan Lunine says: "... The strongest constraint on the source material of Earth's crustal water comes from the oceanic deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio (D/H). Here one must distinguish between crustal water and deep mantle water, because there is disagreement whether the deep reservoir has a different D/H value or even exists ...

Because carbonaceous parent bodies are generally thought to reside in the asteroid belt, it is compelling to consider whether most of Earth's water came from the primordial asteroid belt. Models addressing this hypothesis must account for both the total mass of crustal water, which is perhaps several times the mass of the ocean itself, and the SMOW value of D/H. Avery recent model for the origin of Earth's oceans ... quantifies in a chronological fashion the supply of terrestrial water from multiple sources that wax and wane in importance at different times keyed to the gravitational scattering of planetesimals by Jupiter and Saturn. ...

... The main point, that the water budget delivered to the habitable zone depends sensitively on the existence and properties of giant planets, can be extended to other volatiles as well,including organics. However, there is a potentially interesting twist: the organic and volatile content of solid bodies is a sensitive function of temperature and other conditions of formation. Although most of Earth's water may have come from asteroids, it is possible in principle that most of the organic molecules came instead from comets ...".


The Chicxlub Yucatan crater (from 180 to 400 kilometers in diameter) was caused by collision impact about 64 million years ago. Since India was then south of its present position, the Deccan basalt traps of India were then roughly antipodal to the Chicxlub Yucatan crater. Duncan Steel hypothesizes that the "... giant impact in Mexico apparently induced seismic waves which were focused on western India, causing fracturing which then led to the widespread Deccan eruptions. ...".

Massive Siberian basalt flood eruptions occurred about 250 million years ago. According to Duncan Steel, "... The appropriate antipodal point to Siberia is the Falkland plateau off Tierra del Fuego ... [where] ... [Michael] Rampino has identified two sub-oceanic circular basins with diameters of about 350 kilometers and 250 kilometers, respectively. Dating of the rocks indicates the same age as the Late Permian extinction. ...".

The Moon was formed about 4,400 million years ago by an Earth collision impact of a Mars-sized body, perhaps leaving the Pacific Ocean as an impact crater and possibly forming the initial continental crust of the Earth. Stephen Goodfellow, in a shockwave animation file, says: "... If the continental plates were assembled on a sphere, the sphere would be approximately the size of Mars. ...". Perhaps, at the time of the collision between the Earth and a Mars-sized body:

The above scenario is in agreement with the Constant Mass Model of Continental Development described by Keith O'Nions in the Open University book Understanding the Earth (ed. by Brown, Hawkesworth, and Wilson, Cambridge University Press 1992), in which the figure below is Figure 8.7.

( The evolution of Earth's continents prior to about 1,000 million years ago is not well known. )

Around 4,000 to 3,850 million years ago, the Moon was the subject of a cataclysmic bombardment.

The Earth's magnetic field produces a magnetosphere that extends about 65,000 km toward the Sun, and about 400,000 km, to the Moon's orbit, away from the Sun.

Earth's inner iron core may be one large crystal.

The Moon has no large iron core, and is in a sense the complement of Mercury:

Mercury has a large iron core and little light rock; the Moon has little iron and is mostly light rock.

There is water/ice on the Moon, observed at both permanently shadowed Lunar Poles by the Lunar Prospector Spacecraft.

Could one of the large objects have collided with Earth about 4,400 million years ago, ejecting light rock which formed the Moon?

Could the Pacific Basin be the impact crater of such a collision?

Could such a collision have tilted the Earth's axis to approximately its present 23.5 degrees, at which the Moon's gravity stabilizes within about 1.3 degrees?

According to calculations by Jacques Laskar (see Discover, January 1994 - The Moon of Our Delight by Robert Naeye), if the Moon were not there, the tilt of Earth's spin axis would be unstable and vary from 0 to 85 degrees.

If the Moon's orbit were to be perturbed (such as by collision of the Moon with a comet or asteroid), would that change the stabilized tilt of the Earth's spin axis, and therefore produce a physical Pole-Shift with changes in ocean currents, air currents, and overall climate?

Could a group of smaller objects have collided with the Moon about 4,000 to 3,850 years ago, cratering the far side of the Moon but leaving the Earth side relatively untouched?

Could the net effect of such collisions have been to put the Moon and Earth into their present exceptional configuration that permits annular and nearly exactly total Solar eclipses?






Astronomy Picture of the Day - March 15, 1999:

In the above small gif image made from Hubble image 97-24a from the Space Telescope Science Institure, note the blue sky at the limb on the right side of Mars, and the green patterns in the area of the Mars Pathfinder Landing Site. The images were taken to "... document the dissipation of a large dust storm during the 12 days separating the two observations ...". Compare the pink sky and red rocks shown in this stereo pair image made from a Mars Pathfinder Stereo Pair of Twin Peaks by Timothy Parker of JPL:



When the Solar System was formed about 4,400 million years ago, between Earth and Jupiter, in the region of Mars and the asteroid belt, there may have been about 8 large objects about 8,600 km in diameter, plus Mars at about 6,800 km in diameter, plus some smaller objects.

Some of the large objects could have collided with each other, forming more small objects that could either stay in the asteroid belt, go out and be captured by Jupiter, or go into the inner Solar System.

In Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, Vol. 98, Issue 3, 809-814, January 30, 2001, Jonathan Lunine says: "... Although most of Earth's water may have come from asteroids, it is possible in principle that most of the organic molecules came instead from comets. ...".

According to an article by Conel Alexander in Nature 423 (12 June 2003) 691-692:

"... Stars form by the collapse of high-density regions, or cores, inside interstellar clouds. A disk of gas and dust forms around the growing star, and most of the mass that is accreted by the star passes through this disk. Early on, jets of partially ionized gas develop along the system's axis of rotation. ...

With a few exceptions, meteorites are fragments from the asteroid belt that lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Their parent asteroids are the last vestiges of the swarm of planetesimals from which the terrestrial planets - Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars - formed. The oldest and most primitive meteorites, the chondrites, appear to consist largely of aggregates of material that formed in the disk before, or at the same time that, the planetesimals formed. The major constituents of chondrites (50-80% by volume) are chondrules - small spheres of silicates, iron metal and iron sulphide. Up to a further 5% is made of predominantly silicate objects that are rich in calcium and aluminium, known as calcium-aluminium-rich inclusions, or CAIs. Chondrules and CAIs range in diameter from tens of micrometres to centimetres, and formed during brief heating episodes at temperatures of 1,600-2,000 K. The chondrules and some CAIs melted, and even partially vaporized; other CAIs appear to have condensed out of a hot gas and never melted. When they formed, they contained significant concentrations of short-lived radionuclides, although these concentrations are much lower in chondrules than in CAIs. The shortest-lived of these radionuclides (41Ca) has a half-life of only about 100,000 years, which means that the time interval between its synthesis and its incorporation into CAIs must have been, by astronomical standards, very short. A popular explanation for this short interval is that a nearby supernova both triggered the collapse of the fledgling Solar System and seeded it with the short-lived radionuclides. ... A radically different explanation for the existence of chondrules and CAIs, put forward by Shu et al. .... links their formation to the presence of bipolar jets in the early Solar System (Fig. 3 ...

... on page 730). These authors propose that bipolar jets were launched by strong magnetic fields at the interface between the disk and the forming star. The CAIs, they argue, formed in a region slightly closer to the Sun, where there was little gas, and were repeatedly irradiated by energetic flares emanating from the active young Sun. These flares not only melted or even vaporized the proto-CAIs, but also induced nuclear reactions that produced the shortlived radionuclides. Chondrules, Shu et al. suggest, formed at the same time in a gas-rich region slightly further from the Sun. Here the flares would have melted the protochondrules, but the shield of gas and dust would have reduced the amount of shortlived radionuclides that could be produced. The position of the launch point for the jets might have wandered through these two regions, sweeping up both chondrules and CAIs onto ballistic trajectories so that they rained down on much of the inner Solar System. If Shu et al.5 are correct, the abundance of chondrules and CAIs in chondrites implies that most material now in the inner Solar System was processed through the jets, strongly influencing the chemistry of the dust from which the terrestrial planets formed. It has the added attraction of requiring no mechanism to explain how CAIs were stored in the disk for up to two million years before the chondrules formed. However ... studies of the abundances of two short-lived radionuclides (10Be and 60Fe) in meteorites have recently called the Shu et al. model into question, and a roughly million-year time difference between chondrule and CAI formation seems to have been confirmed by recent lead-isotope data. But these arguments against the Shu et al. model would be greatly weakened if it were shown that chondrules and CAIs formed contemporaneously. Although rare, CAI fragments have been found within chondrules, and this is consistent with chondrules forming either in the same period as or after CAIs. Finding a chondrule fragment poor in short-lived radionuclides inside a CAI rich in short-lived radionuclides would be unambiguous evidence in support of the Shu et al. model. Itoh and Yurimoto ... have found what they believe is just such an object. In a section of the meteorite Y-81020, held at the National Institute of Polar Research, Tokyo, Itoh and Yurimoto have found what appears to be a CAI made up of three components: a chondrule fragment; a melilite (silicate) crystal that is probably a fragment of an earlier CAI; and a porous, fine-grained calcium-aluminium-rich silicate that cements the object together, the 'mesostasis' ... (Fig. 1). ...

... The mesostasis probably formed during the final melting that produced the object. ... Could this object be a chondrule whose precursors were dominated by much older CAI material, rather than a chondrule within a CAI? Arguments will certainly be made for both interpretations. Ultimately, the issue may only be resolved if the abundances of one or more of the short-lived radionuclides in the mesostasis can be determined. ...".

The total present mass of all the asteroids in the belt is only about 5% of the mass of the Moon.



The Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter has mapped the topography of Mars. Here is a sequence of 4 images, each 90 degrees from the preceding one, color-coded with red as high and blue as low, with north at the top and south at the bottom:



The surface of Mars can be divided into two main components:

an ancient cratered highlands, covering most of the southern hemisphere, and

low-lying plains that are mostly at high northern latitudes.

Superimposed on this two-fold division are the high- standing volcanic provinces of Tharsis and Elysium. The cratered highlands cover almost two thirds of the planet. They are mostly at elevations of 1-4 km above the datum, in contrast to the northern plains which are mostly 1-2 km below the datum. According to a 10 March 2000 BBC article by David Whitehouse, "... instruments on Nasa's Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft ... suggest the planet went through a period of rapid cooling early in its history. The data also provide evidence for large, buried channels that could have carried enormous volumes of water. ... the elevation of the Martian northern lowlands ... controlled the northward flow of water early in the planet's history. This would have produced a network of valleys and outflow channels.

The features are about 201 km (125 miles) wide and over 1,600 km (1,000 miles) long, with characteristics that can be explained by water flow on the surface or in a submarine environment later buried by sediments. The large size of these channels implies that any bodies of water in the northern lowlands could have accumulated rapidly. The now buried channels may represent the means for filling an early ocean. ... The period of rapid interior heat loss may correspond to the time when Mars had a warmer climate, liquid water flowed on the surface, and the planet's surface was shielded from the solar wind by a global magnetic field. ...". [Compare the now-arid Nile Valley on Earth.]

In the Solis Planum region, between the Tharsis volcanic province to the NorthWest and the Southern Highlands to the SouthEast, and just South of the great canyon of Valles Marineris, lies "... a near-surface ice reservoir, about the size of Arizona ... It likely stretches for miles (kilometers) below the Martian surface and is a few miles thick. ... It could start just 650 feet (200 meters) or less from topside. ...", according to a 20 September 2000 article by Leonard David on the website.

According to the following images from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, from a 9 March 2000 article (reporting on a paper in Nature by Peter Thomas et al) on the SpaceScience web site, the lower altitude northern polar cap

seems to be made of water ice (which melts to a liquid phase)

while the highland southern polar cap

seems to be made (at least on its surface) of carbon dioxide "dry ice" (which melts by sublimation to a gas phase). According to a 14 February 2003 BBC web article:

"... The ice cap at Mars' south pole is made almost entirely of ice made from water, rather than from carbon dioxide as had previously been thought ... Writing in the magazine Science, Professor Andy Ingersoll and his graduate student, Shane Byrne, ... scientists at the California Institute of Technology ... say the south polar cap is too warm to be carbon dioxide, or dry ice, as previously believed. ... the south pole's dry ice cover is slightly thicker than the one found in the north and does not disappear entirely in the summertime. The layer of dry ice on the south pole is about eight metres - which would indicate that the planet has a only a small fraction of the carbon dioxide found on Earth and Venus ...".


The cause of the division between the highlands and plains is unclear but it may be the result of a very large impact at the end of accretion.

 Graham Hancock says that Mars has a massive collision impact crater with "... reactive disruption at the antipodal point ... the Martian crater Hellas, which has a diameter of almost 2,000 kilometers, has been connected to ... the Tharsis Bulge ...".

According to Stuart Ross Taylor, "The Tharsis Bulge ... affects the moment of inertia and thus strongly influences the present obliquity of Mars.

The tilt of the axis of Mars averages about 24.4 degrees +/- 12.7 degrees, with cyclic variation whose period may be about 10^6 years, but whose past and future history is highly uncertain.

The rotation period of Mars is about 24.6 hours.

Could the coincidence of the average axial tilt and rotational period of Mars and Earth be the result of some sort of resonant coupling between the Earth-Moon System and Mars? 


A 28 March 2001 article says: "... In 1998, an infrared spectrometer on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft detected a substantial deposit of gray hematite near the Martian equator, in a 500 km-wide region called Sinus Meridiani. The discovery raised the tantalizing possibility that hot springs were once active on Mars. ... Gray hematite has the same chemical formula (Fe2O3) as its rusty-red cousin, but a different crystalline structure. Red rust is fine and powdery; typical grains are hundreds of nanometers to a few microns across. Gray hematite crystals are larger, like grains of sand. ... to get that kind of coarsening of the crystallinity, you would need to have a reasonable amount of water available where the hematite formed. ... carbonates and sulfates ... can be better (than hematite) at preserving a fossil record. ... carbonates, would also indicate that standing bodies of water were present on the surface. ... Hematite minerals, on the other hand, might have been formed by hydrothermal water deep underground. So far, instruments on MGS have found no direct evidence for carbonates or sulfates anywhere on Mars. The absence of such aqueous minerals is a mystery if liquid Martian water -- in the form of lakes, rivers or oceans -- was indeed abundant in the planet's geological past. ... The hematite makes scientists wonder, was there once a Martian equivalent of Yellowstone National Park where steaming hot springs formed hematite-laden pools? ...".

Brine Flows on Olympus Mons:

According to a 13 March 2003 BBC article by David Whitehouse: "... Dark streaks on crater and valley walls may indicate that brackish water currently flows across the surface of Mars. ... the slopes around the Red Planet's largest extinct volcano, Olympus Mons, contain dark stains caused by brine flowing down hill. ...

... The discovery indicates that the substantial underground ice deposits on Mars can sometimes melt and flow across the surface. ... Tahirih Motazedian, of the University of Oregon, US, ... had examined images of Mars taken at different times and had seen new streaks form within time intervals of months. ... She speculates that geothermal activity driven by volcanic heat may be causing the melting of subsurface ice. The water dissolves surrounding minerals to form a super-saline brine which, because it contains salts, can remain liquid at lower temperatures and pressures than pure water can. When the brine trickles on to the surface, it flows downhill staining the surface. ... The dark streaks always begin upslope as a point and widen downslope, just like flowing water. ...".

Mars has Hurricanes:

According to a 20 May 1999 BBC article, "... The Hubble Space Telescope has taken pictures of a giant storm in the northern polar region of Mars. ... The giant cyclonic storm system is more than 1,600 km (1,000 miles) across. The eye of the storm is nearly 200 miles in diameter. ... It is composed of water-ice clouds like storm systems on Earth, rather than the dust typically found in Martian storms. The system is similar to so-called "spiral" storms observed more than 20 years ago by Nasa's Viking Orbiter spacecraft. But it is nearly three times as big as the largest Martian spiral storm system seen before. The Viking discovery was made during the same stage in the Martian year as the Hubble find. "These rapidly growing and decaying systems do appear to be typical of the Martian polar weather at this season, which is northern mid-summer," says Jim Bell, assistant professor of astronomy at Cornell University. "The storm we detected from Hubble appears anomalous because of its size, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft sees other storms of this size eventually as well." ... The MGS flew over the region three days after Hubble took its pictures and captured just normal cloud patterns for this time of year. Hubble made its observations on 27 April using its Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. ...:.

Martian Bacteria Contain Magnetosomes:

According to a BBC article by David Whitehouse (cited to me by Gary Ford), "... Some ... bacteria have evolved the ability to sense [a] ... magnetic field. They do this by making tiny magnetic crystals of iron inside themselves and arranging them into chains called "magnetsomes". These tiny grains ... of ... magnetite have a very specific size and shape. They are also very pure - far purer than magnetite grains that occur naturally. Professor Joe Kirschvink of the California Institute of Technology, an expert on biological magnetism, will point out [in the week of 15 March 1999] that magnetsomes have unique properties. If they are present in the [Martian meteorite from the Allen Hills region of Antarctica] then they could certainly be identified, he will say. Dr Kathie Thomas-Keprta, of Nasa's Johnson Space Center in Texas, will describe research that she believes shows that magnetite produced by bacteria-like microorganisms is indeed present in the Allen Hills meteorite.

The presence of magnetite in the Mars rock has been known for some time. The grains of this magnetic material seem to be located in the rims of globules of complex carbon molecules. This is just what would be expected if they were fossils of ancient Martian bacteria. In the most detailed investigation of the composition of these magnetite grains, Dr Thomas-Keprta will conclude that they were indeed formed by past Martian life.

Nanobacteria may exist on Earth and Mars:

According to a BBC article by David Whitehouse, "... The most common form of life on Earth may be tiny forms of bacteria, if new research in Australia is confirmed. And right now they might be living on Mars, as well as in Earth rocks and even inside your body. ... Philippa Uwins has revealed that tiny filaments in sea-floor mineral samples multiplied. She was looking at a clay mineral called illite, which has submicroscopic fibres. But then a colleague noticed what appeared to be fungus growing on the samples. She went back to her slides and saw spore-like structures that reminded her of germinating bacteria. Tests are now underway to try to get DNA out of the nanobacteria. ... They were one of the lines of evidence used by Nasa scientists to claim that tiny structures in a Martian rock were fossil bacteria. ... Other research suggests that nanobacteria may have direct effects on humans. They may cause kidney stones ... A team from the University of Kuopio say that analyses of 30 human kidney-stone specimens has revealed that all of them contained nanobacteria. ...".



Jupiter spin (red) and magnetic field (yellow), from Universe, 4th ed, by William Kaufmann, Freeman 1994:


According to Murray and Holman, in astro-ph/9903277, "... The chaos seen in integrations of the outer planets arises from the overlap of the components of a three body mean motion resonance among Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus, with a minor role played by a similar resonance among Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. ... [the theory] provides rough estimates of the Lyapunov time (10 million years) and the dynamical lifetime of Uranus (10^18 years). The Jovian planets must have entered the resonance after all the gas and most of the planetesimals in the protoplanetary disk were removed. ..."

The sunspot half-period of 11 years is roughly the 11.86 year sidereal period of Jupiter. Does that indicate that Jupiter's electromagnetic field influences the Sun?

Jupiter may have a liquid metallic hydrogen core.

Jupiter radiates about 1.5 times more energy than it receives from sunlight.

Jupiter's magnetic field has polarity opposite from Earth's. It produces a magnetosphere that extends about 4.3 million km toward the Sun, and about 650 million km, to Saturn's orbit, away from the Sun.


According to a 12 April 2001 article by J. Kelly Beatty in Sky and Telescope:

"... Already recognized as the most potent system of its kind in the solar system, it appears that Jupiter's aurora can also put on quite a dazzling - and impromptu - light show. On September 21, 1999, as the Hubble Space Telescope looked on, the planet's north polar region erupted with ultraviolet light that brightened 30-fold in just 70 seconds.

Then, almost as quickly, the outburst abated. Although space physicists have been monitoring the Jovian aurora with HST for more than a decade, nothing this intense or abrupt has ever been witnessed. Unlike terrestrial auroras, which are powered by solar-wind interactions with Earth's magnetic bubble, those on Jupiter draw their energy largely from the breakneck, 9.9-hour rotation of the planet and its inner magnetosphere. Trapped electrons spiral down the magnetic field lines and slam into the planet's upper atmosphere, causing hydrogen atoms to glow in a bright oval of ultraviolet light. However, the 1999 flare occurred poleward of the ubiquitous auroral oval, implying a source region farther out in the magnetosphere, some 3 or 4 million kilometers from the planet's sunward-facing "morning" quadrant. The HST observers, led by J. Hunter Waite Jr. (Southwest Research Institute), can't yet explain what caused the outburst, but they suspect an external trigger. As they note in the April 12th issue of Nature, the Jovian magnetosphere likely reacted to the arrival of a high-density pulse of solar wind. Because the interplanetary conditions were not unusually stormy that day, the team suggests that "such flares, if indeed triggered by changes in solar-wind pressure, may not be uncommon." ...".


The tilt of Jupiter's rotational axis is only about 3.1 degrees.

In 1994, Comet Shoemaker-Levy collided with Jupiter.

Jupiter's larger moons include Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.

Io (orbital radius about 420,00 km), the innermost of Jupiter's major satellites, interacts with Jupiter's magnetosphere by way of sulfur volcanoes and an orbital plasma torus. According to a 6 August 1999 article by BBC News Online Science Editor Dr David Whitehouse: "... Io ... has the most dazzling light show in the Solar System. Curtains of red, blue and green hang in a dark sky over an alien landscape of deep red and dirty yellow icefloes. This is the image astronomers paint of the large rocky moon in a new analysis of its atmosphere, published in Science magazine. ... Gravitational forces raise huge tides that pump energy into the moon's interior, driving large volcanoes. Io is the most volcanically-active world in the Solar System. ... Io's volcanoes are composed of plumes of sulphur that spray the surrounding landscape with lurid chemical colours. The plumes play a role in producing Io's wonderful auroral lights.

Showers of electrons striking the moon's thin atmosphere give rise to a blue glow. Red light comes from oxygen in the atmosphere, and green light from sodium. The ... auroral images of Io taken by the Galileo spacecraft ... were taken during an eclipse by Jupiter. Io's eerie glow dims noticeably when the moon lingers in Jupiter's shadow. The likely explanation, concludes the team, is a partial collapse of the moon's atmosphere. Some of Io's atmosphere comes from sulphur dioxide ice on the surface that is warmed by the Sun and evaporates. This gas probably begins to recondense during eclipse. Surprisingly, the blue glows associated with volcanic plumes appear to intensify while Io is in darkness. ...".

The Io-Jupiter interactions are very different from the interaction between Saturn's rings and Saturn's magnetosphere.


Is there liquid water and life under the ice crust of Europa (orbital radius about 670,000 km)?


(Europa image from JPL)


Saturn spin (red) and magnetic field (yellow), from Universe, 4th ed, by William Kaufmann, Freeman 1994, and 24 Feb 2007 NASA Cassini image with 2.3 micron blue rings, 3.0 micron green sunlit, and 5.1 micron red thermal emission:


According to Murray and Holman, in astro-ph/9903277, "... The chaos seen in integrations of the outer planets arises from the overlap of the components of a three body mean motion resonance among Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus, with a minor role played by a similar resonance among Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. ... [the theory] provides rough estimates of the Lyapunov time (10 million years) and the dynamical lifetime of Uranus (10^18 years). The Jovian planets must have entered the resonance after all the gas and most of the planetesimals in the protoplanetary disk were removed. ..."

Saturn may have a liquid metallic hydrogen core.

Saturn radiates about 2.5 times more energy than it receives from sunlight, and Saturn's relative abundance of Helium is less than that of the Sun.

Saturn's magnetic field has polarity opposite from Earth's. It produces a magnetosphere that extends about 1.2 million km toward the Sun.

Sometimes, if the solar wind is strong so that Saturn's magnetosphere is compressed, Titan (orbital radius about 1.2 million km), on the Sun side of its orbit, is outside the magnetosphere.

Saturn's rings (orbital radii inside about 140,000 km) have a large surface area, and interact with Saturn's magnetosphere differently from the interaction of Io and Jupiter's magnetosphere.

Perhaps magnetosphere interactions explain why Saturn has much more prominent rings that the other gas giant planets.

Could collision with a large planetesimal body explain the tilt of Saturn's rotational axis to about 26.7 degrees?



 Uranus spin (red) and magnetic field (yellow), from Universe, 4th ed, by William Kaufmann, Freeman 1994:


According to Murray and Holman, in astro-ph/9903277, "... The chaos seen in integrations of the outer planets arises from the overlap of the components of a three body mean motion resonance among Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus, with a minor role played by a similar resonance among Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. ... [the theory] provides rough estimates of the Lyapunov time (10 million years) and the dynamical lifetime of Uranus (10^18 years). The Jovian planets must have entered the resonance after all the gas and most of the planetesimals in the protoplanetary disk were removed. ..."

Uranus may have a core similar in size and composition to the planet Earth.

Uranus radiates more energy than it receives from sunlight.

Methane in Uranus may decompose to hydrogen and carbon, forming diamond rain.

Uranus's magnetic field has polarity opposite from Earth's, and is inclined by 59 degrees from its rotation axis. It produces a magnetosphere that extends about 430,000 km toward the Sun.

A conventional view is that a collision, or chaotic rotation/orbit mechanics, may have caused the 98 degree inclination of the rotational axis of Uranus with respect to perpendicularity with respect to its orbital plane.

However, in my opinion:

My current view is that the inclination was caused by Uranus being formed at the boundary between inner solar system Minkowski acceleration and outer Segal Conformal acceleration that has been observed by Pioneer spacecraft. In gr-qc/0104064, Anderson et al say:

"... Beginning in 1980 ... at a distance of 20 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun ... we found that the largest systematic error in the acceleration residuals was a constant bias, aP, directed toward the Sun. Such anomalous data have been continuously received ever since. ...",

so that the transition from inner solar system Minkowski acceleration to outer Segal Conformal acceleration occurs at about 20 AU, which is about the radius of the orbit of Uranus. That phase transition may account for its unique rotational axis which lies almost in its orbital plane.

The most stable state of Uranus may be with its rotational axis pointed toward the Sun, so that the Solar hemisphere would be entirely in the inner solar system Minkowski acceleration phase and the anti-Solar hemisphere would be in entirely in the outer Segal Conformal acceleration phase.

Then the rotation of Uranus would not take any material from one phase to the other, and there would be no drag on the rotation due to material going from phase to phase.

Of course, as Uranus orbits the Sun, it will only be in that most stable configuration twice in each orbit, but an orbit in the ecliptic containing that most stable configuration twice (such as its present orbit) would be in the set of the most stable ground states, although such an effect would be very small now.

However, such an effect may have been been more significant on the large gas/dust cloud that was condensing into Uranus and therefore it may have caused Uranus to form initially with its rotational axis pointed toward the Sun.

In the pre-Uranus gas/dust cloud, any component of rotation that carried material from one phase to another would be suppressed by the drag of undergoing phase transition, so that, after Uranus condensed out of the gas/dust cloud, the only remaining component of Uranus rotation would be on an axis pointing close to the Sun, which is what we now observe.

Much of the perpendicular (to Uranus orbital plane) angular momentum from the original gas/dust cloud may have been transferred (via particles "bouncing" off the phase boundary) to the clouds forming Saturn (inside the phase boundary) or Neptune (outside the phase boundary, thus accounting for the substantial (relative to Jupiter) deviation of their rotation axes from exact perpendicularity (see above image from Universe, 4th ed, by William Kaufmann, Freeman 1994).



Neptune spin (red) and magnetic field (yellow), from Universe, 4th ed, by William Kaufmann, Freeman 1994:


According to Murray and Holman, in astro-ph/9903277, "... The chaos seen in integrations of the outer planets arises from the overlap of the components of a three body mean motion resonance among Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus, with a minor role played by a similar resonance among Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. ... [the theory] provides rough estimates of the Lyapunov time (10 million years) and the dynamical lifetime of Uranus (10^18 years). The Jovian planets must have entered the resonance after all the gas and most of the planetesimals in the protoplanetary disk were removed. ..."

Neptune may have a core similar in size and composition to the planet Earth.

Neptune radiates more energy than it receives from sunlight.

Acccording to a 5 October 1999 article in The New York Times by Warren E. Leary: "... Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley say the hot, crushing atmospheres of Neptune and Uranus may be transforming the chemical methane into flecks of diamond that fall toward the cores of the planets. And, they say, these crystals could coalesce, much like ice in Earth's atmosphere, to produce diamond sleet or hail that rains down through the atmospheres of their planets. Their conclusions are published in the Oct. 1 issue of the journal Science. The research team, led by Robin Benedetti ... and Dr. Raymond Jeanloz ... says that methane, when heated and compressed, decomposes into diamond and other carbon compounds more easily than previously suspected by planetary theorists. ... Uranus and Neptune, respectively the seventh and eighth planets from the Sun, are estimated to contain 10 percent to 15 percent methane under an outer atmosphere of hydrogen and helium. Jupiter and Saturn, the fifth and sixth planets, have significantly less methane than their more distant cousins, but researchers say they may also be diamond producers on a smaller scale. ...".

Neptune's magnetic field has polarity opposite from Earth's, and is inclined by 47 degrees from its rotation axis.

It produces a magnetosphere that extends about 590,000 km toward the Sun.

Could collision with a large planetesimal body explain the tilt of Neptune's rotational axis of about 29 degrees?

Is Neptune, as the last gas giant, the outer boundary of the Sun's planetary system?

As reported by ABC News, during about 20 years of its 248-year orbit, Pluto is closer to the sun than Neptune. Pluto circles the sun twice in the time Neptune completes three orbits, and

from 7 February 1979 to 5:08 a.m. EST on 11 February 1999, Neptune has been more distant from the Sun than Pluto.


Pluto and Charon:


Can Pluto and Charon be thought of as a bound state of two escaped moons of Neptune?

NASA spacecraft in July 2015 took this image of Pluto:

As reported by ABC News, during about 20 years of its 248-year orbit, Pluto is closer to the sun than Neptune. Pluto circles the sun twice in the time Neptune completes three orbits, and

from 5:08 a.m. EST on 11 February 1999 until the spring of the year 2232, Pluto is more distant from the Sun than Neptune.



Comets and a Distant Planet


Comets may come into the inner Solar System from:

According to Dr. Michael DiSanti of Catholic University and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (Greenbelt, Md.), commenting on research published Nature 399 (17 June 1999) 662-665: "Our observations of Hale-Bopp indicate that comets now in the distant Oort cloud were originally part of the solar system's ancient proto-planetary disk. It was thought that comets could have formed in the cold, dense cloud of gas and dust that existed before the proto-planetary disk formed. However, if this were so, we would have seen even more carbon monoxide emission from Hale-Bopp. The amount of carbon monoxide ice compared to water (12 percent) indicates that these comets formed somewhere between the orbits of Jupiter and Neptune. We hope to learn more about what was going on when the giant planets formed by investigating the chemistry of this comet."

With regard to the same research (Nature 399 (17 June 1999) 662-665), Dr. Michael Mumma of Goddard said: "There is another group of comets that may be more like the cold, dense cloud that preceded the solar system disk. Kuiper belt objects lie beyond the orbit of Pluto, and probably formed from remnants at the fringes of the proto-planetary disk. They are believed to be the source of comets with short orbital periods and low inclinations to the ecliptic plane. This region is remote from the Sun, and that part of the disk would have been less influenced by radiation from the young Sun, so ices in Kuiper belt objects are probably more like those in the original cloud from which the solar system formed ... Future measurements may reveal this difference."


In Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, Vol. 98, Issue 3, 809-814, January 30, 2001, Jonathan Lunine says: "... Although most of Earth's water may have come from asteroids, it is possible in principle that most of the organic molecules came instead from comets. ...".


According to a 5 April 2001 article by David Derbyshire on the Electronic London Telegraph: "... Small tarry meteorites from comets "seeded" the Earth with the building blocks of life billions of years ago ... organic chemicals from space rained upon the lifeless Earth, providing the ingredients for the first simple organisms. Many scientists think that comets began to deposit water and carbon molecules on the Earth four billion years ago. Comets are made mostly of ice and are relatively rich sources of organic chemicals. Water can survive a fiery descent into the Earth's atmosphere and explosive impact with the surface, but organic chemicals are far more fragile. Duncan Steel, a physicist at Salford University, believes that he has found a way for these chemicals to reach the Earth safely. As comets approach the Sun, they spawn vast amounts of dust and meteoroids. ... With Christopher McKay of the Nasa-Ames Research Centre in California, Mr Steel has shown that many may contain heavy organic compounds similar to tar. Mr Steel, who presented his findings at the National Astronomical Meeting in Cambridge yesterday, said these tarry lumps would survive being heated by the Sun as they floated through the inner solar system. They would burn up at a lower temperature and a far higher altitude than lumps of rock or metal, releasing organic chemicals into the atmosphere, and they would take decades to float down to the surface and into oceans. Using radar he has shown that tarry meteoroids are continually entering the atmosphere. He said: "These organic chemicals have been raining down on the atmosphere for billions of years. Each year the Earth accumulates 40,000 tons of material from space." All the essential amino acids needed for life have been identified in meteorites, he said. If comets and meteorites played a role in life on Earth, then it raises the prospect that life could be fairly common throughout the universe. ...".


According to an article by Hazel Muir in The New Scientist (1 April 2000) at page 9, "... Several years ago. Luann Becker and Jeffrey Bada of the Scripps Institutionof Oceanography ... found buckyballs ... in the debris of an impact crater in Canada. Trapped inside these 60 and 70-carbon molecules was a mixture of helium isotopes more typical of interstellar space than Earth's atmospher ... Becker and her colleagues have looked at debris from another impact: the one thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. ... In samples of this debris from New Zealand, Denmark, and Colorado, and in samples from two meteorites, Becker ... now at the University of Hawaii ... has again found buckyballs - some as large as C400. ... these contained mixtures of inert gases that ... "Can only be described as extraterrestrial in origin" ... if organic compounds could survive the plunge to Earth, this supports the idea that early impacts enriched the primordial soup of chemicals that gave rise to life. ...".

a Distant Planet among the Comets

According to a 7 October 1999 BBC article by David Whitehouse, there may be "... a ... planet orbiting the Sun ... 30,000 times more distant from the Sun than the Earth, putting it a significant fraction of the distance to the nearest star. ... The ... suggestion ... comes from Dr John Murray, of Britain's Open University. For several years, he has been studying the peculiar motions of so-called long period comets. ... By analysing the orbits of 13 of these comets, Dr Murray has detected the tell-tale signs of a single massive object that deflected all of them into their current orbits. "Although I have only analysed 13 comets in detail," he told BBC News Online, "the effect is pretty conclusive. I have calculated that there is only about a one in 1,700 chance that it is due to chance." In a research paper to be published next week in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, he suggests that the so-far unseen planet is several times larger than the largest known planet in our solar system, Jupiter. Being so far from the Sun ... it would take almost six million years to orbit it. ... He has calculated that it lies in the constellation of Delphinus the Dolphin. But the planet orbits our Sun in the wrong direction, counter to the direction taken by all the other known planets. This has led to the remarkable suggestion that it did not form in this region of space along with the Sun's other planets. It could be a planet that "escaped" from another star. ... Professor John Matese, of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, has carried out a similar study and reached broadly similar conclusions. His research is to be published in Icarus, the journal of solar system studies. ...".





The Sun is the gravitational center of the Solar system and its primary source of energy.

The focal length of the Sun as a gravitational lens is about 540 AU.


Do the Gods of Ancient Egypt

tell the story of the

Creation of our Solar System?

Here is a speculative interpretation of some of the Gods of Ancient Egypt, motivated by, but not necessarily the same as, the interpretation of Alan F. Alford in his book The Phoenix Solution (Eridu Books 1998), and using as a reference Gods and Pharaohs from Egyptian Mythology, by Geraldine Harris (Peter Bedrick Books 1981):

Nun corresponds to

the thin emtpiness of the Predecessor Universe from which our Universe was formed by a Quantum Fluctuation.


The 8 Gods of the Ogdoad,

Nun and Nunet, Heh and Hehet, Kek and Keket, and Amon andAmonet,

correspond to the Cl(8) Clifford Algebra

from which our Laws of Physics can be constructed.


Thoth brought the laws to Earth.


Ra corresponds to the Sun.
Ra Sun has the ability (knows the Name of Ra) to produce energy.


Children of Ra:

Shu corresponds to a Mars-sized Proto-Planet.

Tefenet corresponds to Comets.

Hathor corresponds to the Eye of the Sun, that is, a Sunspot or Solar Flare, or an Exploding Supernova Star.

Ra Sun directly contacts Earth civilizations (Dolphin and/or Human) by Schumann Resonances.

About 11,600 years ago the Hathor Vela X supernova was seen on Earth, the Taurid/Encke comet fragmented, and a very sudden (50 years or so) warming event ended the Ice Age and marked the start of the Holocene Age of warm climate and glacial retreat.

According to Manetho (Egyptian historian ca. 343 BC) 11,600 years ago marked the beginning of the Rule of Mortal Humans on Earth. Ra saw that humans made weapons and began to kill each other, so Ra withdrew from direct contact with Humans and sent Thoth to represent Ra on Earth.


Children of Shu and Tefenet:

Geb and Nut, combined, correspond to a Proto-Earth.

The Shu Mars-sized Proto-Planet collided with the Geb-Nut Proto-Earth, forming the Moon and the Earth.

The Tefenet Comets collided with the Geb Earth to provide water for Earth's Oceans, and organic material for life.

The Nut Moon and Geb Earth were stabilized by two Heh gods, the Twilight Ones, corresponding to Venus and Mercury.


Children of Geb and Nut:

Osiris corresponds to a Proto-Asteroid Planet.

[ On another level, smaller in scale and more recent in time than fragmentation of a Proto-Asteroid Planet into Asteroids, Osiris also corresponds to fragmentation of part of Comet Hale-Bopp, about 4,200 years ago, into meteorites such as the Shivling that is the Black Stone of Mecca. ]

Haroeris corresponds to a Proto-Satellite of Jupiter.

Seth corresponds to a Proto-Mars.

Isis corresponds to Jupiter, a large gas planet that, like Ra Sun, has the ability (knows the Name of the Ra Sun) to produce more energy than it absorbs.

Nephthys corresponds to Saturn.

Isis Jupiter and Nephthys Saturn are electromagnetically linked to Ra Sun.

The Seth Proto-Mars collided with the Osiris Proto-Asteroid Planet, shattering it to create the Asteroids and Proto-Satellites of Isis Jupiter that combined with the Haroeris Proto-Satellite of Jupiter to form the Son of Isis and Osiris,the Proto-Planet Horus.

Guided by the gravity of Isis Jupiter, the Horus Proto-Planet collided with the Seth Proto-Mars to produce Horus-Seth Mars, whose Lowland Northern plains correspond to Horus and whose Southern Highlands correspond to Seth and are heavily cratered by meteorites sent by the gravity of Isis Jupiter.




New Scientist 13 July 1991, page 24, article by Nigel Henbest: Is planet Mars a giant asteroid? describing work of David Hughes at Un. of Sheffield, reported in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, vol. 32, p. 133.

Solar System Evolution, A New Perspective, by Stuart Ross Taylor, Cambridge 1992.

Universe, 4th ed, by William Kaufmann, Freeman 1994.

The Planetary System, by David Morrison and Tobias Owen, Addison Wesley 1988.

Physics of Space Plasmas, by George Parks, Addison Wesley 1991.

Sky and Telescope, August 1993 special issue about Venus.

Aviation Week and Space Technology, 3 Feb 97: page 65, Strange Forces Alter Europa's Terrain, by Michael A. Dornheim; page 62, New Orbit May Suit Satellites, by James R. Asker.

The Mars Mystery, by Graham Hancock, Crown 1998.

Rogue Asteroids and Doomsday Comets, by Duncan Steel, John Wiley 1995.

The Phoenix Solution, by Alan F. Alford, Eridu Books 1998.

Gods and Pharaohs from Egyptian Mythology, by Geraldine Harris, Peter Bedrick Books 1981.

Some images of the Sun and Planets (including the Venus image as seen in radar wavelenghts) are from a NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Laboratory for Extraterrestrial Physics web page about the Solar System.

The Earth-Moon image is from the Moon page of The Nine Planets website, by Bill Arnett.

The Mathilde Asteroiod image is from the Mathilde information in the web pages of the NEAR (Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous) program.



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