The chaotic teenage Solar System

At a Solar System party, in a room full of planets, the asteroid belt is full of angst. And it should be. It’s out of place. It’s wearing a clown outfit but it’s not a costume party. What makes the asteroid belt so different? Well, for one, it’s not just one object like each individual…

Exactly how unusual is our Solar System?

There is only one Superman. One Wonder Woman, one Captain America, one Ironman. All told, a few dozen superheroes. And billions of superhero fans. What about our Solar System? Are we one-in-a-million like Batman? Or a dime-a-dozen like Batman’s fans? How unique, how special is our Solar System? For the first time in human history,…

No livable planets without life

Life is caught in a chicken-and-egg situation. For life to exist on a planet, the planet must of course have the right conditions for life. The planet must be habitable. But a planet’s habitability depends in large part on whether it already has life. It’s a lot easier for a planet with life to be habitable. So a planet needs life to be able to host life….

Planet Nine from Outer Space!

This post could also be titled: How blogging and social media help make science happen. Here is the story.  Planet Nine was conjectured in late January 2016. In February 2016 I started to think about where Planet Nine may have come from. This led to 3 blog posts, each exploring a different origins story for…