Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Was Earth a Migratory Planet?

"This idea leaves me a little chagrin because it sounds like some of the wacky imaginary planet Nibiru predictions for the 2012 doomsday warnings. What's more, in the 1970s Sagan ridiculed Immanuel Velikovsky's ad hoc theories of a runaway Venus and other colliding planets. Velikovsky's ideas were built around comparative mythology and not dynamical modeling."

by Ray Villard
By all accounts Earth should be a "snowball planet" like the frigid world Hoth in the 1980 Star Wars film "The Empire Strikes Back."

Why? Because common theories of stellar evolution predict that the sun was only 70 percent of its current brightness when it first lit its fusion engine 4.5 billion years ago. The sun has been steadily growing brighter since then and will continue so into the future, eventually evaporating away Earth's oceans.

ANALYSIS: Stellar 'Speed Bumps' Could Shape Baby Star Systems

Once Earth amassed an ocean 4.3 billion years ago it should have quickly frozen over and reflected so much sunlight back into space that it squelched Earth's ability to thaw out for billions of years.

The dilemma, called the "faint young sun paradox," has been know about since the 1950s and was popularized by Carl Sagan. Geochemists and solar physicists have wrestled for answers all these years.
Lowering Earth's reflectivity by reducing cloud cover doesn't work. Models also show that a greenhouse effect from dense carbon dioxide and methane can't warm the Earth enough either. In some simulations, methane and carbon dioxide combine to make a photochemical smog that would have chilled Earth even further. Read More