Neighboring planets fine tuned for life on Earth

Image credit: Hubble

Neighboring planets fine tuned for life on Earth

We live among neighboring planets fine tuned for life on Earth. The gas giants in particular play a crucial role in protecting the Earth and in enabling life to emerge at just the the right time. From among the gas giants, Jupiter in particular acts as a giant vacuum cleaner to protect the Earth from life extinguishing impacts from comets and asteroids. This was dramatically seen in July 1994 when Comet Shoemaker Levy impacted Jupiter with dramatic effect (shown in the image above). The fine tuning of the planets is another wonderful testimony to the love of God.

For the gas giants to act as a planetary shield, their mass and position has to be just right. If they were too small they would not protect the Earth sufficiently. If they were too large they would disrupt the orbit of the Earth, making life impossible [1]. In fact, research shows that Jupiter Saturn, Uranus and Neptune not only act as a protective barrier against impact events but their position and mass in turn influenced the mass and position of the proto-Earth. This provided the conditions for advanced life to emerge at a suitable time in the later history of the solar system [2].

During the formation of the early solar system, Jupiter and Saturn displayed an intricate dance, moving inward towards the sun and outward again [3].  What exactly Jupiter and Saturn did was to pass through an "orbital resonance", where their gravitational pulls acted in sync. One of many consequences of this was that a dense and threatening asteroid belt was cleared from the vicinity of the Earth.  In fact this orbital resonance configured many of the characteristics of the entire solar system, which permitted a solitary planet to exist in a life supporting "Goldilocks zone" around the sun.

The configuration of our solar system is particularly unusual and is tuned to a degree of precision beyond the possibilities of random probability.


[1] G. Wetherill et al., Astrophysics and Space Science 212, (February 1994)

[2] H. Kobayashi et al., Astrophysical Journal 756  (September 2012)

[2] Kevin Walsh et al., Meteorites and Planetary Science, 47, (December 2012)

Prayer Reflection

The things of the physical world continually reflect more profound spiritual truths. In the formation of the solar system, our neighboring planets are fine tuned for life on Earth.  Their orbits are central to everything, forming the right paths at the right times and taking up their assigned positions to play their life giving roles. Each planet dramatically affects the others for better or worse in a dynamical ongoing exchange.

Take a moment to place yourself under the gaze of the Father. Ask yourself What about you? where are your orbits taking you in life? What do you orbit around and where is your center of gravity? Is it in the Son or in yourself? Perhaps you are in the transition zone struggling to move from self to God, often perturbed by other paths and experiencing the pull of destinies other than the Son. You were created to fix your life and gaze around God who is the uncreated light at the center of everything. Only if you take up your role in this life can you find true happiness and harmony and be a blessing to others on their paths. If your center of gravity is in yourself you will become a destructive force to others and yourself - trying to spin everything into your own world to be consumed. 

Yet the gentle pull of God is always present if you can hear it. It depends on what you tune in to hear. Love and truth sets us free with light hearts to move outward. We can't do it on our own, but only with the power of God's love and presence which continually tugs at our hearts and seeks us out. No matter where you are, there is a great hope for you and hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:5).

Talk to the Father about how you want to change your orbit and you will surely receive help happiness and a lightened heart. All of us need many mid-course corrections in life. We have a merciful God who want to provide and desires our salvation incomparably more than we do ourselves.

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