Red Planet too far from the action to grow big, astronomers contend
There was a whole lotta movin’ and shakin’ going on in the inner part of the early solar system, according to two new simulations. If the models are correct, this new and dramatically more violent view of terrestrial planet formation could have consequences for understanding several puzzles, including why Mars isn‘t as heavy as Earth or Venus.
Two teams of researchers who presented their models of the early solar system on October 4 at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences in Pasadena, Calif., began their work by trying to address a long-standing mystery. According to the standard model of planet formation, Mars ought to be five to 10 times as massive as it actually is.