What Would Happen If a Planet Vanished From The Solar System?

What if a Planet Disappeared? Exploring the Impact on the Solar System Unveiling the Consequences of Planetary Disappearance

Video of the day November 27th 2019

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Is it even possible for that to happen?

So let’s get the elephant out of the room, shall we? Is it even possible for a planet of our solar system to just…disappear? Technically speaking no, for a planet to just blink out of existence is incredibly unlikely. To the extent that it’d be something out of sci-fi to perceive. However, that doesn’t mean that a random incident couldn’t cause a planet to disappear in some fashion, it just wouldn’t be instant.

What exactly does that entail? Well, let’s take a look at something like Mercury, which is one of the smaller planets in our solar system. It’s already going through a process right now where it’s shrinking, quite literally via compression on its core. So one day, it’ll literally implode and blink out of existence in its own way. Or, there is another way you can view it, it’s possible that an asteroid collides with Mercury with such force that it could quite literally destroy the planet. Thus, making it disappear from the night sky.

You could say the same thing for Earth and certain other planets in regards to the asteroid theory, which is why many on Earth fear a strike from such a space rock. But the other truth that we need to consider here is that when it comes to space there is much we don’t know. We’ve found planets that boggle the mind and we’re still finding out things that truly don’t make sense. So maybe there is something that can cause a planet in our solar system to disappear in an instant, we just don’t know about it right now, and that’s why we need to think about what this all means should one go away.

It Depends On Which Planet Goes Away

This particular point shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to you. But if we’re looking for major effects on the solar system should one of the planets randomly and suddenly disappear, we would need to think about which planet is disappearing in the first place. If we take a look at our solar system (from Mercury to Pluto in this instance…yes, I know Pluto isn’t technically a planet anymore…I really don’t care what they say, it is in my mind!) we’ll notice instantly that the planets are not the same size, shape in some instances, compositions, what moons they have and don’t have, and most importantly, their distance and orbits around the sun.

When you think about it, every single planet has an effect on the solar system as a whole, even if we don’t immediately realize it, which isn’t saying much because there’s a lot in space that we don’t truly understand or realize is going on. That’s why research into space is such a big part of the human species, because we WANT to know what’s out there and why/how it could affect us if we’re not paying attention to it.

Anyway, so you could make the argument that any and all planets that we take “out of” the solar system would have an effect on things for the part, but that’s not exactly meaning that we should fear losing every single planet out there. Confused? Don’t worry, I’ll explain.

If Mercury Was Lost, Then…?

So it’s only appropriate that we start with the first planet in the solar system, Mercury. This is one that is the closest to the sun, and because of that its “days” are mere hours due to the orbit it has around the sun. It’s also one of the hottest places to be in the entire solar system because of the fact that it’s almost literally right next to the sun. Trust me, if you think the sun looks big on Earth, just wait until you see it on Mercury.

Anyway, let’s look now at what it means if Mercury suddenly…went away…let’s just say it got teleported by accident to another part of the universe. Oops. So, now that it’s “gone”, what exactly are we feeling here? Is the solar system a wreck because it’s gone? Honestly…? No. It’s not, and for the reasons you’re likely thinking of. Mainly, the planet is so close to the sun, and is so small (only bigger than Pluto) that it doesn’t have a big impact on the solar system at large. I know that may sound weird, but it’s true. The bigger the mass of an object, the more gravity and pull it exerts. That’s why certain planets have moons that orbit it.

Mercury has none, and even if it tried to have one, the pull of the sun would rip it away. So yeah, its gravity field isn’t that big. Which means that were it to vanish suddenly, the impact would only be in terms of knowledge and wondering what happened to it.

The other thing to consider here is distance. Just in terms of distance from Mercury to Earth it’s about 50 million miles, which means that its pull is WAY out of reach and can’t do anything to us.

So if we were looking for one of the “best case scenarios” for a planet disappearing, that would be Mercury most times. So let’s put it back and focus on our “sister” next.

If Venus Was Lost, Then…?

Ah, Venus, Earth’s “twin” as many astronomers like to say, and a planet that we have a very deep fascination with for various reasons. But let’s ask the question that we’re here to answer, what would happen if that planet were to disappear? *snap* Oh, I’m sorry, I snapped my finger and it’s gone, that’s weird. But would you look at that? The planet honestly didn’t cause too much of a ripple throughout the galaxy. With one exception of course…

You see, you might not realize it based on where you are on Earth, but Venus is the second brightest thing in our sky. Behind…what? Can you guess? The sun? No actually, while the sun does light the Earth and give it warmth, its brightness is actually beaten by two other objects. The first is the moon, which is ironic because it’s only bright because of the sun reflecting off of it, and then, of course, Venus. Venus is so bright in the sky because of how close it is to us that many refer to it as the “Evening Star”. So, should it disappear from the sky and space, the Earth would be darker. Not too much to be fair as we still have the moon and other stars shining down from above, but the effect will be noticeable. 

So while the solar system won’t spiral out of control per se if Venus vanished, it would have an effect on things here on Earth. Thus we should be glad it’s where it is.

Venussource: Space.com

If Mars Was Lost, Then…?

Mad I skipped Earth? Don’t be, I’ll get to it, but it’s kind of obvious what would be bad about Earth vanishing, but what about the rest of the non-life planets? What would happen if Mars vanished? Did you see that? I blinked and Mars was gone! Weird.

Believe it or not though, Mars suddenly vanishing wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. It’s smaller than Earth, so we don’t have to worry about negative gravity effects, so there’s that. But the ironic thing though is that Mars position in regard to both Earth and Jupiter honestly helps spur on an event that puts the Earth in danger…asteroid slinging. You see, there is a massive asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, I’m sure you know this. And it’s from this belt that asteroids are occasionally thrown at Earth. But why is that?

Simple, while the belt is held “in place” by the gravity of Jupiter (which is the biggest planet in our solar system), Mars has just enough of a pull to make it so that the asteroids get sent Earth’s way every once in a while.

So…if Mars was to vanish, it would mean that Earth is a lot safer. Who would’ve thought?

Jupiter

Oh yeah, this is the big one, quite literally actually. Jupiter as noted is the biggest planet in our solar system, so it goes to reason that if something were to happen to it…say…random implosion? Yeah, let’s go with that. If Jupiter were to implode and be gone, it would have a big impact on things, and that’s very, very true.

Remember that asteroid belt I mentioned? Well, if Jupiter was to suddenly vanish from the space it’s in, those asteroids have to go somewhere. Specifically, it would go in the direction of the object with the biggest gravity field that can reach them. Gee…I wonder what that would be…it’s the sun, obviously. 

The sun was already pulling on the asteroid belt, which is part of the reason they get flung Earth’s way from time to time. But with Jupiter gone the pull of the sun is now fully unobstructed. Meaning the ENTIRE BELT is going to be thrown the way of Mars, Earth, Venus and Mercury. If any one of them hits any of the planets, it could cause serious damage.

Also though, Jupiter has a small impact on our orbits, which means with it gone, it would alter how we go around the sun. Though it should be noted that this wouldn’t be immediate.

Saturn

Given that Saturn is the second-biggest planet in the solar system you’ll likely expect it to have a big impact on the solar system if it vanished. Which would be true..and false. It would be more accurate to say that it would have a bigger impact on the immediate area than the solar system at large. Pun intended.

You see, if Saturn were to get a “ring out”…get it? Ring…out? Nevermind, if it was gone, the gravity that it exerted on both Jupiter and Uranus would cause things to change in their orbits. Some of which may be more substantial than you realize. However, because of its distance from the other planets, on both sides, that is the limit of which its effects will go.

For that, we honestly should be grateful.

Uranus

Uranus is by and large the weirdest planet in our solar system (unless you count Earth, which I’ll leave you to your own opinions on that one…), as it’s a planet that is literally on its side. It’s the 3rd largest planet in the solar system, and that means it does have effects on things…within a certain distance of course. For example, if it were to keep getting tilted until it flew out of the galaxy, it would have a big impact on Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune (it’s twin). But as for the first four planets? Not so much.

This again is a question of size and distance. While its size allows for a lot of gravity in the immediate area, the distance from it to the inner circle of planets is too much to cause an issue.

Neptune and Pluto

As for Neptune and Pluto, if they were to disappear there would honestly be a lot of the same things going on as with Uranus and Saturn. A lot of local issues, but not a lot of solar system issues. That being said, if Neptune were to disappear, Pluto would be in serious trouble. You see, just out of reach from Pluto, and in the gravitational pull of Neptune is an asteroid belt. It encompasses the entire solar system and it’s a dangerous place to go through. If Neptune were to vanish, the rocks and ice that are there would be able to move wildly and freely. Thus, it could crash into poor Pluto, and wipe it out entirely.

Earth

Ah, I saved the best for last, mainly because if we’re being honest here, the Earth is the absolute LAST place we want to vanish from the solar system. Mainly because, we’re on it! And us going “away” would be bad very bad even.

First and foremost, if the Earth just randomly vanished and didn’t come back, we would have to assume that the planet is destroyed, and thus all life that is on it would be gone forever. Which is a problem because at present the Earth is the ONLY planet that has life on it in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE!!! Sure, there are theories that there are other lifeforms out there and plenty of TV shows and movies debating how we’ll come into contact with them and such but right now we only know about us.

So yeah, if we were to vanish, the solar system may not be overly impacted because we’re not the biggest planet around, but it would mean that the universe just got a lot more barren in terms of what’s out there. Life wouldn’t exist as we know it, and that’s a frightening thing to think about.

Just as bad, should the Earth vanishing be a mere “teleportation” issue…don’t look at me I didn’t do it, we would still have a problem because we live in the literal perfect place to get heat from our sun and not burn up. So if we were transported to another part of the universe, we risk not having that perfect balance and thus we’ll die an entirely different way.

Point is, be glad the Earth is right where it is.

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