• Question: Could the earth ever drop out of the solar system?

    Asked by Niamh to Sergio, Nick, Maria, David on 14 Mar 2019.
    • Photo: David Whitworth

      David Whitworth answered on 14 Mar 2019:

      It wouldn’t be able to drop out of the solar system as the gravitational pull from the Sun is too great. It could however be knocked or pulled out of the solar system. This could happen if another rogue planet, or really really large object passed through or near the solar system and the Earth was affected by its gravitational forces. The object or planet would need to be larger than the Earth and pass quiet close by to affect us though and is highly unlikely, but very possible.

    • Photo: Maria Walach

      Maria Walach answered on 14 Mar 2019:

      That’s highly unlikely because the gravity is really nicely balanced by the other planets and the sun – It would only happen if something really heavy came by and pulled it away. Or if a black hole formed nearby. This isn’t impossible, but it’s highly unlikely!

    • Photo: Nick Werren

      Nick Werren answered on 14 Mar 2019:

      All the planets in the solar system are orbiting the sun. This means they are circling around the Sun because they’ve been sucked in by the gravity and are basically falling AROUND the sun.

      For the Earth to drop out some big change to gravity would have to occur. If the Moon one day disappeared, it’s gravitational affect on us would disappear too!!! We’d have no tides, the earth would spin faster so days would be shorter and our orbit around the sun would probably change and we would move closer to the Sun!

      Plus, as David said, if a planet passed through our solar system then that could really mess up our orbits and cause us to FLY OFF INTO SPACE! So it’s possible that it could happen, but I personally think you don’t have much to worry about!