Earth probably shouldn't exist.
That's because the orbits of the inner solar system planets — Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars — are chaotic, and models have suggested that these inner planets should have crashed into each other by now. And yet, that hasn't happened.
New research published May 3 in the journal Physical Review X(opens in new tab) may finally explain why.
Through a deep plunge into the models for planetary motion, the researchers discovered that the motions of the inner planets are constrained by certain parameters that act as a tether that inhibits the system's chaos. Besides providing a mathematical explanation for the apparent harmony in our solar system, the new study's insights may help scientists understand the trajectories of exoplanets surrounding other stars.