How special is our Solar System? (Synopsis)

It’s the simple formula we all know and recognize: inner, rocky worlds closest to the Sun, an asteroid belt farther out, and then gas giant worlds out beyond them. That’s how our Solar System works, at any rate. But what about the other star systems in the Universe?

Confirmed planets as of September 2014. Credit: PHL @ UPR Arecibo.
Confirmed planets as of September 2014. Credit: PHL @ UPR Arecibo.

We’ve finally got enough data to determine whether other planetary systems are like us or not, and if not, how common (orĀ uncommon) our configuration actually is. But what’s also interesting is that despite the tremendous computational power needed, simulations are finally catching up to the data, too, allowing us to understandĀ why the results are what they are.

Computer Simulation of a protoplanetary disk. Credit: W. Kley, R.P. Nelson.
Computer Simulation of a protoplanetary disk.
Credit: W. Kley, R.P. Nelson.

Come learn how special our Solar System truly is, thanks to Brian Koberlein!