Study: Solar system ejected giant planet early on

A Neptune-sized planet likely got the boot from the solar system some 3.9 billion years ago, suggests an analysis.

Our solar system now includes four giant planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Astrophysicists have long puzzled how they arose from the debris disc that surrounded the sun about 4.6 billion years ago when the sun was born.

In a series of 6,000 simulations of the early solar system’s growth, David Nesvorny of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., reports on the physics arXiv database that a solar system starting with five giant planets was 10 times more likely to lead to today’s configuration of planets, rather than one with just today’s familiar four big’uns.

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