Are inner rocky planets able to form in the outer planet’s positions?

Josh Barker from the National Space Centre answers this question for us

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The outer planets are thought to have formed closer to the Sun than their current positions

The outer planets are thought to have formed closer to the Sun than their current positions

Asked by Jack Simms

No, it’s not possible, although it is believed that the outer planets could not form in their current locations either. This statement obviously fundamentally rocks our understanding of the Solar System.

Current research shows that the rocky planets probably formed in their current locations but the outer planets must have been much closer in than they are today. This is due to how we think the material, from which the planets are made, must have initially been distributed.

To produce the arrangement we see now, the planets are thought to have undergone some migration. This unstable period, around 700 million years after the Solar System formed, saw the outer planets drift outward. We call this the Nice model and it’s our best guess at how the Solar System formed.

Answered by Josh Barker from the National Space Centre

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