Instabilities affecting the Sun and the Earth
Solar systems are commonly flat discs with planets orbiting a
star in one plane, and some planets have one or more moons orbiting
them. Isaac Newton did a partial study of this, only sufficient to
conclude that the planetary bodies in our solar system have a
degree of orbit stability that should maintain their orbits for a
long time. But he did not consider other solar system stability
issues, and since solar system bodies exert gravitational pulls on
each other, the normal structure of a solar system can involve some
instabilities, which in the case of our own solar system would
chiefly seem to be ;
1. Our spherical Sun with its spherical structure and functioning
would be more stable if the planetary gravitational pulls on it
were basically distributed spherically. The fact that they are now
distributed in one plane only, exerts destabilising pulls on the
Sun. Were some planets to orbit the Sun in a plane at 90% to the
present planetary orbits then this problem would be much
2. Our Earth with its spherical structure and functioning would
also be more stable if gravitational pulls on it were basically
distributed spherically. The chief factor going against that is our
having the Moon orbiting Earth. William Gilbert before 1600
concluded that the Moon was pulling our seas and so causing tides,
and there is no doubt that the Moon also pulls the land and must
help encourage volcano eruptions and earthquakes and continental movement that destabilises
Earth. A thin flat disc artificial moon would have little gravity
and so should reduce such problems if it replaced the Moon. Earth's gravity has set its Moon's
spin to equal the Moon's orbit time of 27 days (as have most other planets set their moons'
spins) basically due to Moons not being homogenous spheres.
3. Both the Sun and the Earth would also be more stable if
gravitational pulls on them were less from point sources, eg if
the Earth's one moon was split into several smaller moons or if
the Sun's few planets were split into a larger number of planets.
Then the gravitational pulls on the Earth and the Sun would be less
4. Both the Sun and the Earth would be still more stable if planets
did not all have separate orbits with different orbit speeds
allowing intermittent alignment conjugation of their gravity
Our very unstable flat solar system
Orbits in one plane at different speeds
A less unstable spherical solar system
Orbits in 90% planes at one speed
Clearly our solar system may not be quite as stable a system
as many have imagined. And in particular the Sun and the Earth do
have real gravitational instability problems.
The relative gravitational pulls of the planets on the Sun at
present are about - Mercury=0.37, Venus=1.57, Earth=1.00,
Mars=0.05, Jupiter=11.75, Saturn=1.05, Uranus=0.04, Neptune=0.02.
Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Earth and Mercury exert the strongest pulls
on the Sun. If the planets were in two orbits at 90% with orbit
diameters near the present orbit diameters of Mars and Jupiter then
their total pulls on the Sun would be about the same as now but
with much reduced equatorial effect and much reduced conjugation
effect. Of course asteroids, comets and moons have some additional
Another general solar system problem of course is the large number
of rogue rocks hurtling around the solar system, many coming out of
the asteroid belt because of its gravitational instabilities from
the type 3 and 4 affects above. And there is the general solar radiation problem made severe
periodically by increased flare activity as the Sun is affected by
its gravitational instabilities.
The Earth today is affected most by the Moon's gravity, though
the instabilities of the Sun can and do also have significant
effects on the Earth - both mostly impacting our weather system and
helping to cause periodic ice ages or global warmings (and probably also helping prompt volcano eruptions and earthquakes that are more affected by moon gravity). Of course
to date mankind has been able to do little or nothing about any of
these solar system problems, and there are some other lesser
problems also. Of course the moon's night light does have some useful effects, and even its gravity is claimed to somewhat moderate the comings and goings of ice ages by stabilising Earth's spin alignment though
its pullings may well indirectly actually destabilise such to some degree.
For some more on this see our section on
In our solar system it seems that a planet is more likely to retain an atmosphere if it larger, if it is further from the sun, or if it has a stronger magnetic field.
So to make an Earth-size planet habitable would seem to require it to have at least an Earth-strength magnetic field for it to be in an Earth-distance or less orbit around the sun,
and with a weaker magnetic field would require it to be in a greater than Earth-distance orbit around the sun. Of course it would be good to have some other planet in Earth's orbit with no moon, or to make realistic working robot gravity models of Earth with its Moon to study as discussed in our Gravity
section (akin to William Gilbert's magnetic Terrella experiments).
The Suns heat is produced by a process called Fusion where two light atoms like Hydrogen fuse to make a heavier atom like Helium, caused chiefly by the very strong gravity and/or extremely high pressure generated by it with the Suns mass being about 333,000 times the mass of Earth.
The many physicists trying to cause Fusion using extremely high temperature alone are almost certainly wasting science time and money, as Fusion almost certainly needs extremely high gravity and/or pressure (with high temperature being mainly a byproduct of Fusion rather than a cause of Fusion).
Of course technology that can generate gravity has still not yet been developed.
Now our new gravity App called 'SUN PULL' can help you re-design the solar system to reduce solar instability, and you can try it below.
This Android App loads with the 2013 solar system and takes the total gravitational pull of its planets and moons on the Sun as 100.
Orbits run from the Sun, as Mercury(ME), Venus(V), Earth(E), Mars(MA), Jupiter(J), Saturn(S), Uranus(U), Neptune(N).
If a planet has multiple moons then the App uses their total mass.
Green bodies are active or present in the solar system, and Orange bodies are inactive or absent from the solar system.
Click one or more bodies to change their status, and the App gives the new gravitational pull of planets and moons on the Sun.
When the App is loaded showing 100, clicking the green Jupiter(J) gives a new pull value of 25.066 showing the contribution of Jupiter to the total gravitational pull of planets and moons on the Sun as being 74.934%. This can be done for any planet or their moons. Click green bodies to move them out of the solar system, or click orange bodies to add them to the solar system. This App should also work at least approximately for other orbital gravitational systems that involve proportionate forces and orbits.
Moving both Mercury and Venus into Earth's orbit cuts the Sun Pull to 93.812, and then moving Mars into Earth's orbit makes it 94.203.
Current solar system planet orbits are basically all in one plane, but this App allows modelling moving planets to orbit in two planes at 90 degrees by simply running it for the planets of each plane separately.
Of course this App looks at the pull of planetary bodies on the Sun, not the more common looking at the pull of the Sun on planetary bodies - but obviously that is just action and reaction which are simply equal and opposite for this app.
If you do not actually have the ability to move planets and moons, this Android gravity App may only be useful to somebody working in Science Fiction but it is used and has been liked. This interesting gravity App is available from the Google Play app store but it does have limitations and other related Apps may well follow. But below you can run solar system re-designs by clicking planetary bodies ;
Of course as the planets pull on the Sun, so also do the 60+ moons of Jupiter pull on Jupiter. Currently little is known about the exact significance
of these pulls, so for now at best some educated guesses only are possible on these issues. And at present we do not have sufficiently accurate or complete
information on Jupiter and its many moons to make a useful Jupiter Pull app.
Contact with 'alien' people from other worlds :
There being probably a large number of other planets similar to our Earth,
it seems almost certain that some of them must have some kind of people
living on them. So the possibility of contact between people of different worlds becomes
an issue of some interest. Occasional trivial or insubstantial contact may be of
interest to many people, but it is surely regular official trading contact that should be of
most concern. With regard to that, the chief practical difference between
such peoples should be their possession or non-possession of good advanced
space travel technology and advanced science. This perhaps suggests the following conclusions ;
1. Some less advanced civilizations may unreasonably see a possible danger
in uncontrolled contact with more advanced civilizations - as in such contact saying 'We are
mugs, come and mug us'. And most less advanced civilizations by definition may have
technology capable of at most insubstantial contact or trade in any case.
2. Most more advanced civilizations may reasonably see an ethical issue in
uncontrolled contact with less advanced civilizations - as in it subverting
self-determination for the development of the less advanced civilizations.
More advanced civilizations may see less advanced civilizations as having a 'right to self-determination'.
This is in line with the science fiction Prime Directive of 'Star Trek' :
"As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Star Fleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes introducing superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely … This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations and carries with it the highest moral obligation."
And only more advanced civilizations by definition have technology allowing
substantial regular trade contact anyway.
3. These considerations would seem to favour substantial regular contact,
as involving trade relations, only between more advanced civilizations. And
the Earth to date has clearly not yet developed an advanced science or technology
that would allow it to be invited to join an advanced-species trading club. But though there seems little sign of it now, maybe our somewhat primitive science might somehow make that big breakthrough soon ?
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