How Special Is the Solar System?

©NASA

Earth

Given the fact that Earth is so far the only place in the Milky Way galaxy known to harbor life, the question arises of whether the solar system is in any way special. To address this question, I compare the solar system to the many recently discovered exoplanetary systems.

I identify two main features that appear to distinguish the solar system from the majority of other systems: (i) the lack of super-Earths, (ii) the absence of close-in planets. I examine models for the formation of super-Earths, as well as models for the evolution of asteroid belts, the rate of asteroid impacts on Earth, and of snow lines, all of which may have some implications for the emergence and evolution of life on a terrestrial planet.

Finally, I revisit an argument by Brandon Carter on the rarity of intelligent civilizations, and I review a few of the criticisms of this argument.

Mario Livio (University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Visiting Scholar, The Weizmann Institute of Science)
(Submitted on 15 Jan 2018)

Comments: A chapter for the book "Consolidation of Fine Tuning." 44 pages, 25 figures, 1 table
Subjects: Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1801.05061 [astro-ph.SR] (or arXiv:1801.05061v1 [astro-ph.SR] for this version)
Submission history
From: Sharon Toolan
[v1] Mon, 15 Jan 2018 22:57:10 GMT (1392kb)
https://arxiv.org/abs/1801.05061
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