Friday, 2 November 2012

Friendly to Life: Asteroid Belts at Just the Right Place

Asteroid Belts at Just the Right Place are Friendly to Life

This illustration shows three possible scenarios for the evolution of asteroid belts. This illustration shows our solar-system model: a Jupiter-size planet moves slightly inward but is just outside the asteroid belt. Image credit: NASA/ESA/STScI
› Full image and caption


November 01, 2012

PASADENA, Calif. -- Solar systems with life-bearing planets may be rare if they are dependent on the presence of asteroid belts of just the right mass, according to a study by Rebecca Martin, a NASA Sagan Fellow from the University of Colorado in Boulder, and astronomer Mario Livio of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md.

They suggest that the size and location of an asteroid belt, shaped by the evolution of the sun's planet-forming disk and by the gravitational influence of a nearby giant Jupiter-like planet, may determine whether complex life will evolve on an Earth-like planet.

This might sound surprising because asteroids are considered a nuisance due to their potential to impact Earth and trigger mass extinctions. But an emerging view proposes that asteroid collisions with planets may provide a boost to the birth and evolution of complex life.


More - Link >>> http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2012-345&cid=release_2012-345

Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA.

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