Which planet, if it disappeared, would affect Earth the most?
If you’re thinking about a gravitational shift then think again, the real effect would be far more impactful.
Asked by: Lizzie Haynes, Bromley
Jupiter, which has a mass three times the combined mass of all the other planets, dominates gravitational interactions within the Solar System. But even if it suddenly disappeared there would be very little impact on the movements of the other planets, which are mostly determined by the Sun’s gravity.
There would be minor changes in the planets’ orbits about the Sun, but very little else. However, Jupiter does a great job of shepherding and absorbing small objects in the Solar System. With Jupiter gone, the main effect on Earth would be an increase in the rate of impacts from asteroids and other space flotsam.