Quantifying the Influence of Jupiter on the Earth’s Orbital Cycles

Horner, Jonathan and Vervoort, Pam and Kane, Stephen R. and Ceja, Alma Y. and Waltham, David and Gilmore, James and Kirtland Turner, Sandra (2020) Quantifying the Influence of Jupiter on the Earth’s Orbital Cycles. The Astronomical Journal, 159 (1). pp. 1-16. ISSN 0004-6256


Abstract

A wealth of Earth-sized exoplanets will be discovered in the coming years, providing a large pool of candidates from which the targets for the search for life beyond the solar system will be chosen. The target selection process will require the leveraging of all available information in order to maximize the robustness of the target list and make the most productive use of follow-up resources. Here, we present the results of a suite of n-body simulations that demonstrate the degree to which the orbital architecture of the solar system impacts the variability of Earth’s orbital elements. By varying the orbit of Jupiter and keeping the initial orbits of the other planets constant, we demonstrate how subtle changes in solar system architecture could alter the Earth’s orbital evolution—a key factor in the Milankovitch cycles that alter the amount and distribution of solar insolation, thereby driving periodic climate change on our planet. The amplitudes and frequencies of Earth’s modern orbital cycles fall in the middle of the range seen in our runs for all parameters considered—neither unusually fast nor slow, neither large nor small. This finding runs counter to the “Rare Earth” hypothesis, which suggests that conditions on Earth are so unusual that life elsewhere is essentially impossible. Our results highlight how dynamical simulations of newly discovered exoplanetary systems could be used as an additional means to assess the potential targets of biosignature searches, and thereby help focus the search for life to the most promising targets.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences - Centre for Astrophysics (1 Aug 2018 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences - Centre for Astrophysics (1 Aug 2018 -)
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2020 05:26
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2020 05:11
Uncontrolled Keywords: Astrobiology; N-body simulations; Gravitational interaction; Exoplanet systems; Dynamical evolution; Astrophysics - Earth and; Planetary Astrophysics
Fields of Research (2008): 02 Physical Sciences > 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences > 020110 Stellar Astronomy and Planetary Systems
02 Physical Sciences > 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences > 020101 Astrobiology
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970102 Expanding Knowledge in the Physical Sciences
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.3847/1538-3881/ab5365
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/39338

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