What’s going on?
- The researchers said Jupiter moved closer to the sun and then moved away when it was still in early stages of development. Due to the planet’s size, it thwarted Venus’ orbit.
- Jupiter’s shift “likely triggered Venus onto a path toward its current, inhospitable state,” according to a release from UCR.
The researchers created a simulation model of the solar system. The model found that Venus has a near-perfect circular orbit — the most circular of any of the planets in the solar system, according to a release from UCR.
However, when Jupiter was closer to Venus, the orbit might have changed just enough to make it habitable.
- “As Jupiter migrated, Venus would have gone through dramatic changes in climate, heating up then cooling off and increasingly losing its water into the atmosphere,” UCR astrobiologist Stephen Kane said.
Life on Venus?
The scientists looked into the gas’ origins. And extraterrestrial life might be to blame.
If this signal is correct, there is a process on Venus we cannot explain that produces phosphine — and one of the hypotheses is that it’s life in the clouds of Venus. It’s far fetched, until it’s not. — Janusz Petkowski, an astrobiologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who worked on the project.