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Chaotic Solar System: Scientist warns Mars could crash into Earth

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Chaotic Solar System: Scientist warns Mars could crash into Earth

An article published in the prestigious journal Scientific American reveals that Mars could collide with Earth due to a ‘chaotic solar system,’ and changes in the orbits of planets.

According to the geoscientist of the University of Wisconsin Stephen Meyers, the chaotic orbits of the two planets could generate a colossal cosmic impact between the two planets.

“The big finding of this paper was the discovery of the first real firm, unambiguous geologic evidence to confirm this idea that the solar system is chaotic.”

As noted by Scientific America, with the aid of ancient climate cycles, experts were able to confirm our solar system’s ‘chaotic’ planetary orbits.

Meyers and his team came to this conclusion while studying a rock formation in the state of Colorado, which appears to have been formed by the fluctuations of sunlight generated by changes in the Earth’s orbit.

The geologist explains that these variations are caused by faint gravitational interactions between cosmic objects in the Solar System. Until about 85 million years ago the Earth underwent changes in its orbit every 1.2 million years or so, then that period was extended to 2.4 million years by the interaction with the Martian orbit.

In other words, for the last 85 million years or so, our planet’s orbit has varied between a more circular shape and a more elliptical shape every 2.4 million years which resulted in climate changes with the same timing. This cosmic cycle was altered due to a never-ending ‘tug’ between Mars and Earth—just what you’d expected in a so-called chaotic solar system.

The scientist believes that although very improbable, the possibility of a clash between the two planets is real.

The study—published in February 2017—in the Journal Nature is of great importance as it provides the first ‘conclusive’ proof for what scientists are calling a ‘chaotic solar system’.

The chaotic solar system theory was proposed in 1989 by astronomer Jacques Laskar to account for small variations in the present conditions of the solar system.

Professor Meyers, together with his colleague from Northwestern University Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences Brad Sageman found an 87-million-year-old signature of a so-called “resonance transition” between Mars and Earth.

As explained by an article from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “A resonance transition is the consequence of the “butterfly effect” in chaos theory. It plays on the idea that small changes in the initial conditions of a nonlinear system can have large effects over time.”

“The impact of astronomical cycles on climate can be quite large,” explains Meyers, noting as an example the pacing of the Earth’s ice ages, which have been reliably matched to periodic changes in the shape of Earth’s orbit, and the tilt of our planet on its axis. Astronomical theory permits a very detailed evaluation of past climate events that may provide an analog for future climate.”

The findings are in the journal Nature. [Chao Ma, Stephen R. Meyers and Bradley B. Sageman, Theory of chaotic orbital variations confirmed by Cretaceous geological evidence]

The discoveries made by Meyers and his colleagues have numerous implications. For starters, their findings will help scientists date ancient rocks and understand what connection they have to orbital changes and climate. The other potential implication warns that in the future, our neighboring planet Mars could potentially crash into Earth.

“Other studies have suggested the presence of chaos based on geologic data,” says Meyers. “But this is the first unambiguous evidence, made possible by the availability of high-quality, radioisotopic dates and the strong astronomical signal preserved in the rocks.”

(H/T Scientific AmericanUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison)

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