Space's Deepest Secrets (2016–…): Season 2, Episode 1 - Secret History of the Solar System - full transcript


the theories really don't match what we

see size fact can be a lot weirder than

the songs fiction we started finding

planets in places we'd never thought

possibly more than planet need to go

back to the drawing

how do you make soar systems how do you

make planets it shook it real hard our

planets might have moved they might have

moved a lot more some everything changed


to change the way we look at almost

every process and results






the Royal Observatory in Greenwich is

the historical home of British astronomy

discoveries have been made here and

mysteries unraveled it is also home to

some unique astronomical treasures


this is an orrery a clockwork model of

the solar system and for most of the

last four centuries this has been way we

think about the planets in the solar


of course the scale is all wrong but it

clearly shows the traditional feel of

the planet and their fixed orbit in the

center we have the Sun and then around

it we have the full rocky planets tiny

mercury rushing around in the middle

venus planets we have the gas giants

Jupiter the largest planet of all and

then Saturn with its beautiful ring

system and next in these orbits since

they were formed more than four billion

years ago long enough for the earth to

develop into the Haven it is today for

life too


the natural assumption to make is that

everything we see now formed where it is

and the stay there ever since

the idea that the planets are fixed in

their orbits has been the bedrock of our

understanding for hundreds of years but

scientists now realize that we live in a

much more fluid and violent cosmos


it's time for a brand new model


if we look at the solar system as it is

today it seems quite neat and simple but

when we try to model the formation the

solar system on a computer something

doesn't quite add up it's really hard to

get the model to make the planets in the

places where we see them today take for

instance the curious case of the under

sized planet Mars planets Venus and

Earth have about the same mass and we'd

expect mores to have a similar mass too

but it actually doesn't it's only about

one-tenth the mass of Venus and that's

the mystery that's very hard to explain

this is the first of four key puzzles

about the birth of the solar system that

remain unsolved

and then at the edge of the solar system

the two outermost planets Uranus and

Neptune are much further away from the

Sun than we'd expect it's very hard to

explain how they could have formed and

become so large at that great distance

from the central star if we go in and

look at the asteroid belt there are

thousands of small rocky objects there

but there are two broad types some of

them are very rocky and some of them

have more of an icy content and yet

these two types are actually found

relatively close together it seems as

though they formed under different

circumstances but they've all ended up

in roughly the same place and again it's

a mystery as to how that happened and

closer to home

keeps playing the rabbit and massive

bombardment that left the moon covered

in craters there are many mysteries in

the solar system but by unraveling these

four the size of Mars the formation of

the outer planets the composition of the

asteroid Elfi and the bombardment of the

moon we may be able to explain how our

planet earth found itself in a perfect

position for life to evolve and it all

starts a long long time ago

for a billion years ago our son burst

into life from the collapse of a massive

cloud of gas and dust

so in the beginning this is what you

have in our early solar system you have

the young star just born and the

leftovers just explode

of gas the nebula the protoplanetary

nebula full of hydrogen and helium dust

and gas form from this eventually you

form the planets we know surprisingly

little about exactly how the planets are

formed most mysterious of all is the

most important the largest of all our

planets Jupiter which seems to have been

made first the first giant massive

Jupiter the meanest largest it sucks up

more than half of the existing nebula

and becomes the king of the solar system


we know that Jupiter is made up almost

entirely of the hydrogen and helium left

over in this primordial cloud which

means it must have formed because as the

new Sun heated up it would have blasted

the gas away

and so there's a time limit

Jupiter must have formed in the

astronomical blink of an eye just five

million years

but would you admit those truths a new

realization emerges Jupiter is in the

wrong place Scott Bolton has urgent

questions about the planet Jupiter since

he can't personally go look at it he's

doing the next passages by the Jet

Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena his

NASA's Deep Space Operations Center


control room for space flights to the

moon and beyond

Scott's mission to Jupiter June 3 2 1

ignition and liftoff Juno launched in

2011 and is currently more than 2

million miles away

speeding its way to Jupiter at about a

hundred and fifty thousand miles an hour

even at that speed two five year journey

in 2016 if all goes according to plan

the probe will reach Jupiter and go into

orbit around the king of the solar

system once in orbit Juna will spend a

year circling Jupiter gathering vital

clues about how it formed

some of the most important data that we

really want and can't wait to get is

things that are tied to understanding

the early solar system and how to burn

forms so we want to know whether there's

a core in the middle of Jupiter is there

a core of heavy elements of

concentration and materials down in the

center or is it just the same hydrogen

and helium and mixture of gases just

squeezed down

if we can learn what Jupiter is made of

we'll have a better understanding of how

it was built


junuh will reach its destination in the

summer of 2016 and then circle the giant

planet thirty-three times eight

instruments will try to probe beneath

the clouds what Jew knows about is

actually trying to discover the recipe

for the solar system how do you make

solar systems how do you make planets

and the stage that we're at is we're

collecting the ingredient list and

that's really an important part of any

recipe is first you should gather up the

ingredients you figure out there and

then there's some process that you have

to do in order to bake your cake

cooking up a space rock like Earth or

Mars can take a hundred million years

the ingredient list is simple dust early

solar system

you know very fine-grain like this even

finer and eventually they start to stick

together through electrostatic forces

and they build bigger and bigger pieces

and eventually the rocks got big enough

they started to stick together to the

point where they started to form their

own gravity it's a slow process but

there's no rush when it comes to

building a rocky planet the planet made

of gas is trickier you have to make it


because Jupiter and the other gas giants

are mostly hydrogen helium and the Sun

is mostly hydrogen helium that tells us

right away that those planets had to

have formed while that nebula of

hydrogen helium was still around there

are two ways to build a giant planet of

gas that fast we don't know exactly how

Jupiter formed the two main theories are

either it has a direct gravitational

collapse like we think the Sun had from

this nebula and sort of build from the

outside in and form Jupiter pretty

quickly or it starts to build from the

inside out if it collapsed from the

cloud of gas then it would be gas all

the way through to the center but if the

second theory is right then it first

built a rocky core up to ten times the

mass of the earth which then drew in a

blanket of gas either way it had to

happen fast

but if Jupiter was built quickly enough

to have a solid core and a gas surface

it would need to be made from something

other than dust alone

there was another crucial ingredient



imaginary planets

his job is to create theoretical models

about the planets in the solar system

formed models that can best explain

everything we observe in the heavens so

we think that the key ingredient that

allowed Jupiter and Saturn formed so

fast compared to the rocky planets is

that they formed far enough from the Sun

that water could condense from the gas

around the Sun and form ice and increase

the density material and give you more

material to build a larger rocky or core

faster that would explain how jouvert

built a rocky core so quickly but it

doesn't explain why it

it's not unreasonable to think it would

format the place with the most ice


that's at a place called the ice line

but it's not where Jupiter is today

so right now when we look at our solar

system we look at Jupiter and it's

beyond the ice line by a fair bit

whereas we think it was really

advantageous to form Jupiter right at

the ice line so already that's

suspicious if Jupiter was built from a

collapsing cloud we'd expected to be


if on the other hand it was built from a

rocky core we've expected to be closer

to the Sun but it's not in either of

these two places so how did you better

end up here planets have been locked in

their celestial board since long before

the dawn of man the gears in a clock

they go around and around them seemingly


but at the historic Chamberlain

telescope in Denver Colorado Kevin Walsh

is finding that our solar system wasn't

always so tidy you can see Jupiter at

the naked eye but looking at it through

the telescope like this makes it a lot

more fun and so that's the view the

planets that we look at now seem like

they never change and why would they

change this was the bedrock of our

understanding that the planet orbits are



the first hint of something odd came 35

years ago from astronomers trying to

calculate how the solar system formed

they kept getting a strange result some

of those calculations were suggesting

that it was possible that a planet like

Jupiter could have been moved around it

was a result so crazy that it was

totally ignored so if you built a model

to try to understand some of the events

of the early solar system and your model

was telling you that planets could have

migrated or moved the Jupiter could have

moved and it was telling you that you

probably made a mistake so the idea of

planet migration it was just never

possible it just didn't seem possible


before 1995 astronomers assumed our

solar system was the norm

but they had nothing to compare it to

then another distant solar system was

discovered and was completely different

from our own


astronomer Chris Watson is a planet

hunter one of a growing band of

astronomers involved in the hunt for

exoplanets alien worlds circling around

other stars


less than 20 years ago we first found

another planet around another star it's

like our Sun and that was a dramatic

breakthrough and we now know of over a

thousand planets and they're very

strange these are nothing like our solar

system and in some cases I think really

sighs fat can be a lot weirder than

science fiction


wild and crazy' planets and unimaginable

orbits may be normal elsewhere in the


surrounding binary stars we actually

have two stars all to each other but

like to turn off of star wars and that

would be a magical world if he has a

perhaps four planet there because you

would imagine would actually have two

shadows and two stars in the sky as well

none of the planets found have been

remotely like home recently discovered

bigger than Earth but incredibly close

to stop its rocky world but it's so hot

it would actually be molten so maybe

this but the actual lever on its many

planets have been found that are just as

large or larger than our Jupiter but

where they've been found is totally


Jupiter lives out in the cold outer

reaches of our solar system taking 12

years to orbit the Sun but these alien

giants were found in the fiery heat

right next to their star hurtling around

and crazy orbits of just a few days they

were nicknamed hot Jupiters the whites

up against their foot star it's it's

amazing they're really at the time we

thought well how did they get there they

really shouldn't be there other

scientists the fiction well yeah bit


these Jupiter's should not be that close

to the star everyone was baffled by the

existence of hot Jupiters they were

planets that shouldn't exist in orbits

no one predicted


in theory the only place you could build

a gas giant would be out in the cold

far away from a stove because that's the

only place you can find the necessary

ingredients holding my hands is a lump

of dry ice and this represents the

building blocks of planets like Jupiter

and this is fine it's quite happy here

far away from fire represents our Sun or

any other star that one of these gas

joints might inform England but look at

what happens when I bring it closer to

the far

too close to the star and the ice just

turns to gas and without ice

you can't build the gas giant so there's

very little left I've served us a few

minutes and this means is that gas

giants can't form close to the star the

building blocks just cannot exist that

close they have to have formed further

away where the raw materials can exist

if these hot Jupiters couldn't have

formed where we find it could only mean

one thing so we think the natural fact

these are gas giants formed further

right then they actually move towards

the star actually migrated inwards

the planets are on the move and a planet

the size of Jupiter bouncing wildly

among other planets could destroy

everything and it's bad


with the latest generation of telescopes

including NASA's Kepler mission the

housings of planets have now been found

orbiting distant stars


so this is the Keppler honoré which

shows the orbits and the sizes of

planets that these are candidates in the

Kepler space missions fund so these are

transiting planets we can now see that

our own beloved solar system is the

oddball in the galaxy there on the top

left you can see the orbits of the four

planets of our solar system from Mercury

out to Mars but what you can see is the

huge diversity of all the different

planetary systems each set of rings

shows a different planetary system and

each blow of a different planet with its

size and orbit they break every rule we

used to know

so we have large gas giant planets in

there and then you can see the really

short period really weird solar systems

I really don't know kind of thing like

our own solar system some of these

planets actually have orbits of if it's

a few hours they'll even systems

spoiling multiple planets in here


who knows or we might discover in this

rich smorgasbord of planets

there's ridiculous going on

we know that jupiter-sized gas giants

would never have form so close to a star

they must have taken shape far away

before being transplanted causing epic

celestial havoc on route these very

strange orbits it's been a very violent

process to actually take one of these

planets and just chuck it into different

orbit one of the easiest ways to do that

is have a collision take two planets

interaction between them and you can

eject one planet and fling the other

planet really close into the star these

giant gas planets are the bully of the

playground they have the power to throw

other planets around like a game of

cosmic pinball least the size of Jupiter

so vast they can eject entire planets

from the system

they can launch them into crazy polar

orbit they can even destroy entire



well I'd like jiff to the mass of

Jupiter the size of it dominates

planetary systems and he's got the power

to really decide the fate of the other

planets we've discovered other systems

where planets migrate and that hot

Jupiters cause havoc but what about our

own solar system our planets certainly

seemed fixed in their rigid clockwork



earth has been the same distance from

the Sun for four and a half billion

years long enough to create an

atmosphere build mountains and evolve



but where was earth before it's settled

in this position where did our planet

come from when we started discovering

planets around other stars and we

started finding planets and completely

unexpected places places we'd never

thought you could possibly form a planet

we had to go back to the drawing board

and say wow planets can move planets can

really move maybe that happened here the

crazy results that suggest Jupiter might

have changed orbit might not be mistakes

after all

instead planetary migration could be the

key that unlocks many of the mysteries

of how our solar system came to be now

that we've taken this tool planetary

migration that we started to understand

by looking at planets around other stars

well realized that it's absolutely

critical to understand how our solar

system formed and evolve and central to

it all is mighty Jupiter

certainly in our planetary system

Jupiter is the king it's over 300 times

more massive than the earth so Jupiter

wins Jupiter decides what happens

the inescapable truth seems to be the

planets move and if it can happen in

exoplanetary systems it can happen in Oz

if we want to make a model that explains

how our solar system came to be we have

to break the brass rods and set the

planets free

once we accept the idea implants

we can begin to explain some of the

unsolved mysteries of the solar system

find some answers are falling into place



Kevin Walsh has developed a model the

early solar system that involves a wild

dance of the planets it's an intricate

and chaotic game

and if it had gone slightly differently

could have stopped our developing solar

system in its track


jupiter takes a wild ride to the solar



it takes us right back to the moment of

birth when Jupiter had just formed from

the cloud of gas

the key is that though Jupiter is really

big it's 300 times the mass of the earth

the gas disk around the Sun was much

more massive and so the gas can actually

pushed Jupiter in towards the Sun as

soon as it was born

Jupiter began to migrate inwards over

the course of half a million years it

spiraled in towards the Sun it was on

its way to becoming a hot Jupiter so the

idea that you could form something as

big as Jupiter and have it pushed inward

by the gas disc actually makes a fair

amount of sense because we see it we see

it all over but something stopped

Jupiter from crashing into the Sun or

ending up as a hot Jupiter

so if it formed it started migrating

inwards there must have been a mechanism

to stop it and bring it back out to the

outer part of the solar system we think

the key to stop its inward migration to

keep it from going all the way in

towards the Sun is the presence of

Saturn Wow Jupiter was on its wild ride

Saturn was born Saturn is also growing

it's going through the same process that

you patern it it's building the big core

and it's getting really massive and once

it gets really massive as well he can

move in the disk also and it too began

spiraling in towards the self

so it's Saturn ISM racing in words it

gets very close to Jupiter and actually

get close enough they get they get

locked in a residence or their orbital

periods are closely aligned and they

interact very very closely gravitational

now when these two get really close it

actually stops Jupiter's the board

migration the two planets were involved

in a kind of gravitational dance and as

they came close

Jupiter changed direction it was flung

back to the outer solar system

just like I say like changing course and

a grant - so this theory called the

grand tack is called that because our

planets are moving inwards and they get

real close in the stopped and they turn

and they go back outwards and it's kind

of like a sailboat tacking across the


Jupiter's wild ride could explain two

key mysteries first why Mars is so small

so when Jupiter migrates inwards kind of

snowplows all the material all the rocky

material of seas snow plows it pushes it


much of the dust and rocky debris that

would have gone on to build Mars get

pushed out of the way

so by Jupiter coming in and clearing out

all of this material on its way kind of

reduces to total amount of material that

Mars can feed on to grow and so Mars

ends up kind of being starved of rocky

material it only grows to be 1/10 the

mass of the earth

the theory also explains why the

asteroid belt has an icy ring and a

rocky ring so close together during its


Jupiter's scattered everything in its

path it threw rocks from the inner part

of the solar system boundaries

and ice from the outer reaches inwards


leaving the two distinct bands we see

today that's how we end up with two

different types of materials sitting on

top of each other in the middle of the

asteroid boat in a very small region so

Jupiter's Wild Ride could explain two

key mysteries

size of Mars and the composition of the



but the birth of the solar system wasn't

the only turbulent time in its history

about 500 million years later or 4

billion years ago the solar system

entered its teenage years an intense

period of trouble chaos and uncertainty

it's a period of turbulence that could

explain to further mysteries

what Cataclysm drilled all those holes

in the moon while also giving birth to

Uranus and Neptune





now Levison wants to solve the mystery

of the ice giant an earth couple of

billion miles from Neptune and Uranus it

came roughly 500 million years after the

birth of the solar system when all the

planets had long formed and that

indicates that you had this change to

account for this violent upheaval

talents and colleagues devised a new

model it explains why we now see Uranus

and Neptune in places they can't

possibly afford Ernest and Neptune must

have formed much closer and where there

was plenty of icy material but the

system was not stable and a series of

small changes led to a period of utter


that causes the punch would slightly

spread over time and what we think

happened is that Jupiter and Saturn got

to the point where Jupiter goes around

the Sun exactly twice every time Saturn

and that allows their totem one enough

to become much from as a result Jupiter

and Saturn get a little become less

circular and more inclined when you

start getting sort of Uranus and Neptune

which are much smaller than Jupiter

Saturn feel that fight feel that tension

and as a result in a sudden period of

chaos Uranus and Neptune were flung out

into the orbits we see today get

scattered into this dish existed outside

vast lumps of ice were scattered

everywhere raining into the inner solar

system and bombarding the earth and the

moon just moved around nice regular

waves what this is real Karadzic it says

the solar system is not this nice safe

y-yes in place is now dynamic and

turbulent the prime educator is our

playground boy in a cosmic game of king

of the hill eons ago Jupiter may have

picked one planet right out of our solar


David Nez Bernie's computer models

depict our solar system as a strange

place not only were two giant planets

Uranus and Neptune thrown away from the

Sun by Jupiter there was a third victim

as well the solar system we now know was

almost destroyed because that would

happen in my simulation that should be

there just slingshot Uranus and Neptune

from the solar system and they ended

somewhere in interstellar space so that

wasn't right

then David had a radical idea maybe

Neptune and Uranus you didn't get flung

out of the solar system because

something else did I couldn't quite fit

the solar system it looks like today so

I was thinking and thinking and thinking

and then I thought how about if the

solar system there an extra planet

now I'm pointing at duty care so I can

see the disk of Jupiter and then nicely

aligned for giant

it was a huge influence and would have

had bigger influence in the past


it may even have been able to eject an

entire planet from our solar system

system the Sun is in the middle then we

have the terrace chiapoe nuts

then there's the asteroid belt and the

outer planets to get the arrangement of

planets we see today David thinks we

once had an extra ice giant but it was

thrown out by Jupiter I start playing

was the possibility that we had an

additional when I place this third ice

giant between Saturn and Uranus

initially somewhere here what happens in

this case is the instability exposing

Jupiter and Saturn and


the ejected planet may have been the

sacrificial land that saved us from

Jupiter's destructive powers and allowed

our planets to settle in the pattern we

see today


so what became of our missing Lonely

Planet in the simulations I have that

planet is ejected from the solar system

with a speed of about one kilometer per

second but this happened about four

billion years ago

so do you moth it will end up very far

from the solar system so today can be

almost anywhere in the galaxy


20 years ago the mystery of the solar

system began to unravel

evidence from alien world shattered the

long-held view that our planets and

fixed orbits it led to a whole new

understanding of a turbulent of dynamic

past which makes us wonder my things

have turned out differently what we see

in among sources is the result of the

lock on unlikely random events

ending up with a stable system of

planets was just a fluke

a lucky roll with the dies it's amazing

you survived at all getting an earth

where we have our earth today was not a

given when this whole solar system

started it took all these series of

events to get a rocky planet of this

size at this distance with this amount

of water to build the earth that we live

on today

the fate of the entire solar system

including the earth was defined above

all by the movements of our gas giant

Jupiter if Jupiter orbit move

differently if Jupiter moved into the

inner solar system it's unlikely that

the earth will be here and if we are so

unusual will we ever find anywhere else

in the universe so welcoming to life


let's say one in a million

I may seem like a really small number

there are a hundred billion stars in the

galaxy so even something as unlikely as

our solutions there may be lots