In the two previous articles we discussed the passage of a dwarf star, we called it the Red Sun, through the planetary system. In this article, we will put forward an analysis that focuses on the destruction of the fifth planet, Tiamat. The destruction of the fifth planet becomes the starting point of the explanation of the origin of the asteroid belt and it provides plausibility for how the orbits of the planets were disturbed in the geologically recent past and how by this they developed into their present state. We speculate that giant asteroids which emerged from the destruction of Tiamat reshaped the mechanics of planets, such as tilting their axes. However, we will not base our discussion and conclusions on physics and astronomy alone, but in addition, we will refer to myths and ancient writings for evidence.
Regarding the bodies of the asteroid belt, their chemistry and morphology will prove our model conclusive so that they become a cornerstone of our superordinate theory.
Traversing the solar system, the Red Sun holds disaster in store for all the inner planets, hitting hardest the fifth planet, Tiamat, of which only debris remains. Thus, the core of the considerations in this article deal with the fragmentation of the fifth planet, Tiamat, in the accretion disk of the transiting Red Sun. The devastation of a planet – or the death of a goddess, as the ancients understood the disappearance of the planet Tiamat – turned the heaven of the gods upside down and a new generation took over. Consequently, the gods Ra (Egypt) as well as Marduk (Mesopotamia) and Bolon-ti-ku (Mexico) don’t represent the first generation of gods.1 In ancient Greek mythology Zeus follows his father Kronos, whom he castrates with a sickle (= accretion disc?). In another myth, Zeus fights with the Titan Typhon (accretion disk?) before he finally establishes himself as the new ruler of heaven. More specific than just being named as a dragon or a snake, in Greek mythology the figure of Typhon has all the characteristics of an accretion disc. The legend describes his appearance with two snakes forming the abdomen and with dragon-like heads.
Let us first analyze how the destruction of a planet by a collision with another celestial body is even possible. We assume Tiamat moves through the accretion disc of the Red Sun. To make the planet explode the energy entry of the impact must exceed its gravitational binding energy. The gravitational binding energy we determine according to the formula:
with m equal to the mass of the planet and r to its radius. G is the gravitational constant. If we presume that Tiamat was an Earth-like planet (mass and diameter), then the gravitational binding energy would have amounted to 2.4.1032 J.
Given this value, it would require an enormous and at the same time fast-moving object to overcome this energy barrier. The maximum energy input which a hail of boulders from the accretions disc can inflict is too low to destroy the planet. To reach a quantitative understanding of how huge the body would have to be we examine a specific scenario: A planetesimal of the Red Sun exhibiting 5% of Earth’s mass (~3.2.1023 kg and thus four times heavier than the Moon), which smashes into the planet at a velocity of 60.7 km/s, would release a kinetic energy of 5.5.1032 J. This amounts to just twice the gravitational energy that pulls the planet together. Some additional energy is released since after impact a portion of the planetesimal will dive significantly deeper into the planet than stopping at the planet’s surface. This deeper penetration releases additional energy, which can make up to 50% of the surface impact energy. In fact, more than the gravitational binding energy is required to make the planet explode since the impact also has to serve other energy drains. The portion of the gravitational binding energy which will be retained in large fragments will be insufficient to compensate for the amount of energy that disappears in the drains of melting, chemical decomposition and heating the planetary material. Even though this is too small to make the planet explode, the planet’s destruction is facilitated by the impacting material of the accretion disk, as it enhances the energy input and disaggregates the fragments. Nevertheless, how large Tiamat really was, remains an open question.
After exploring this problem of how to destroy a planet, let us now turn to investigate the trajectories of the fragments. The momentum of 1.5.1028 kg.m/s carried by the hypothetical planetesimal must not be ignored when considering the motion of the center of gravity of Tiamat, as it significantly affects the center of gravity motion of the planet. Already the study of the movement of the center of mass, not to speak of the movement of the fragments, is a difficult task. Two effects – the momentum introduced by the planetoid and the swing-by-effect at the nearby Red Sun – have to be taken into account.
Corresponding calculation results, employing the approach of a plastic impact, are plotted in Diagram 1. Entering the above momentum data in the computation, the collision of the planetesimal slows down the planet’s motion by 2.5 km/s. This deceleration compensates for the effect of a swing-by acceleration if we assume that Tiamat approached the Red Sun at a distance of 0.66 AU and passed astern of it.
In the above computations, using the close encounter distance for the parameter, it is assumed that Tiamat is not destroyed even though momentum transfer is considered to have taken place. Also shown in the diagram are the orbits of the other planets before and after their orbitals got disturbed by the Red Sun.
In the final chosen encounter constellation (encountering distance: 0.66 AU), the swing-by of the Red Sun accelerates the planet while at the same time, the impact decelerates it. As a result, the center of gravity moves on an only slightly widened orbit.
Since we imagine the destruction of the planet created a huge explosion, we expect a spectrum of orbits. Appropriate computations indicate some orbits extend beyond Jupiter in their aphelion while other fragments might move on paths that in perihelion intersects the orbit of Mars.
Regardless of the paths on which fragments orbit the Sun, they all bear the pockmarked face created by collisions in the debris cloud. Today, a portion of them forms the asteroid belt and all of them exhibit the common feature of cratered surfaces. Their structural compactness and chemical composition make them remnants of a far more massive object.
The destruction of Tiamat also changed the Red Sun, especially affecting its accretion disc. All of a sudden, the cosmic disc was illuminated by a glaring light provoked by the huge impact and by flashes caused by collisions between the debris of Tiamat the bolides and the gravel that made up the accretion disc. The celestial cyclone got stoked up as the persisting collisions of the expanding planetary debris smashed into the previously calmly rotating accretion disk causing havoc.
The objects of the accretion disc hammered into the cloud of the planetary debris, changing the paths of the fragments, chopping them to pieces and finally scattering them into space. This chaotic celestial event gave birth to the mythical fire dragon. When the Red Sun had moved further on, at the position where before the fifth planet had twinkled, large, after-glowing fragments created a fiery trace of a cosmic contrail, which slowly dimmed down over time. In the larger fragments of this contrail, the ancient cultures recognized petty gods. In the epic Enuma Elish, we come across a cryptic message about the occurrence of such fragments, where, in the report about the destruction of Tiamat by Marduk it is said:2
He assigned 300 in the heavens to guard the decrees of Anu
And appointed them as a guard.
The sum of 300 refers to the large number of after-glowing fragments that were left scattered in space.
The overlapping gravity of two suns and the hammering of the accretion disc prevented a re-condensation of the fragments but widened their cloud. Close encounters and hard collisions led each fragment and each piece of rubble onto a different course. In the end, only a small portion of the fragments remained on trajectories close to the former orbit of Tiamat. And, it is only these fragments that form today’s asteroid belt.
The shattering of Tiamat gave birth to grazers of the planetary orbits. Among them we find giants. The destruction of Tiamat answers the riddle of how gigantic collisions in the planetary system occurred not only at primordial but also at geologically recent times. In an undisturbed solar system, objects moving on orbit-crossing courses would have vanished aeons ago. One fragment, being of sufficient mass, smashed into Venus and, by doing so, transformed the planet into its present state.
Once fragments became grazers of a giant planet any stability of their orbit dwindled. Diagram 2 shows the results of three long-term simulations of an asteroid whose trajectory intersects the orbit of Jupiter.
As these computations prove, asteroids whose orbits intersected Jupiter’s orbit either ended up as its moon, crashed into the planet, or Jupiter’s gravity even hurled them out of the solar system. Or, just the opposite might have occurred in that the orbits narrowed, intersecting thereafter the orbits of the inner planets.
Data of the asteroid orbit: perihelion 2.6 AU; aphelion 5.4 AU. The three long-term orbital simulations shown, start from the same orbit but differ in the initial position of the asteroid on this orbit.
Plot in the left diagram: after 40 full orbits Jupiter hurls the asteroid out of the solar system.
Middle diagram: although not in 1:3 resonance but fallen into a weaker 4:13 period, the orbit of the asteroid oscillates for 1,209 years with little variation around its initial orbit. Simulation period: 1,930 years.
Plot to the right: example of a trajectory pattern exhibiting an immediate and great instability of the orbits. Simulation period: 1,090 years.
In contrast to calculations shown in Diagram 2, in this simulation the object intersects Jupiter’s orbit at a steep angle. A passing of Jupiter’s orbit at a distance of 0.02 AU in front of Jupiter makes the object a grazer of Earth’s orbit. If a body traverses behind Jupiter at a distance closer than 0.02 AU, then the giant planet hurls it out of the solar system.
In the proposed scenario, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn in part might represent fragments of Tiamat. They got hurled on courses that intersected the orbits of these heavy-weight planets. Over time, these fragments got captured into moons. However, none of these large objects exists anymore. Either they got caught to become a moon, smashed into the planet, or by close encounter they were deflected on new courses or even hurled out of the planetary system. The estimated lifetime of an object in such an orbit lasts on average less than 100 thousand years.
On their irregular orbits, the fragments of Tiamat are joined by objects torn loose from the Red Sun by the Sun’s gravity, see Diagram 4.
As a result of the perturbation by the far greater Sun the accretion disc gradually lost its integrity. Starting at the rim of the accretion disk, disturbances propagated inwards. In spite of some viscosity, the flat disc successively knots itself into a fireball of gas and dust. Only the very innermost vortex (< 0.1 AU) preserved its disc character. After the Red Sun had swung around the Sun it rapidly lost luminosity.
In this state of decreased radiant power, the Red Sun and the Earth come closest to each other. The climate on Earth nevertheless collapses, turning the planet first into a sauna and then into a freezer. The consequences were devastating, but higher life on Earth escaped extinction.
In the trajectory computation of three objects orbiting the Red Sun, the hypothetical satellites detach themselves from their parent star at a distance to the Sun which varies between 7 and 3 AU. As expected, the outermost of the three satellites breaks free the earliest and swings around the Sun in a narrow perihelion (0.17 AU). This satellite is a candidate for an impact into the Sun. Also, the satellite orbiting at a medium distance is abducted finally from its mother star by the Sun’s gravity. In its case, we observe an extraordinary trajectory. After orbiting the Sun, this satellite experiences a close encounter with the Red Sun again. This interaction slows down the satellite that it reaches its aphelion at 38 AU and subsequently orbits the Sun on an elliptical path. If of sufficient mass this body could shake the mechanics of a planet by a violent collision. Its orbit approximately fits into the orbital pattern of the minor planets, called centaurs.3
The relative position of a particular satellite in its orbit around the Red Sun determines whether the solar gravity force gradient is strong enough to deflect it away from the Red Sun. If the gradient remains weak, the satellite remains bound to the Red Sun despite the Sun’s dominant gravity. Our orbital simulations show that satellites orbiting the Red Sun at a distance of less than 0.5 AU can remain bound to it if their phase constellation is favorable and they do not come too close to the Sun in their perihelion and incinerate.
The chaos of trajectory changes becomes apparent when even the innermost of the three selected satellites (0.3 AU distance from the Red Sun) temporarily loses its bond to the Red Sun. However, its trajectory follows sufficiently closely the path of the Red Sun so closely that this satellite rejoins its parent sun again after passing through the perihelion. Nevertheless, the perturbation exercised by the Sun’s gravity bends the orbit of this satellite after recapturing into a slender ellipse, which, moreover, is oriented perpendicularly to the former orbital plane, see the plot in the lower right of Diagram 2. By this, our computations make the emergence of the wording a ‘pool of fire’, which Wallis Budge found as a cryptic description of a celestial phenomenon in an ancient Egyptian papyrus,4 comprehensible and concrete.
The existence of the fifth planet is best and unambiguously witnessed by the objects of the asteroid belt themselves. In the distant range of the missing planet, hundreds of thousands of asteroids are bustling. Their mere existence and properties substantiate the thesis about the destruction of a primordial planet. Their existence and orbits represent the subordinate argument, but, their morphology and chemical composition stand as compelling proof.
Factually, the asteroids, which orbit between Mars and Jupiter, are of an amazing diversity. Their composition ranges from metal to rock to water ice. A dense cratering is a common feature, which testifies collisions that have sometimes left behind craters half the size of the asteroid in diameter. The crater density on such small objects is astonishing in itself, but the absence of sharp edges and the chapped surfaces are even more striking.
If each asteroid does not originate from a large protoplanet, which was complexly segregated in shells, but formed separately, the chemical diversity is inexplicable. Assuming an independent formation in the same area the spectrum of the composition of the asteroids leaves us clueless.
Assuming the destruction of a large planet was the progenitor, the variation of the asteroids in morphology and chemistry simply reflects Tiamat’s shell structure. Even if the planet no longer exists, plausible assumptions can still be made about its structure. Like all planets, Tiamat was formed in the primordial accretion disk of the Sun. During the agglomeration and in its glowing birth stage the specifically light material floated up while the specifically heavy and siderophile elements sank to the core. Heat and the gravity of the planet forged the material and pressed it to the densities we find today in the mantle and core of planets – and in some moons and asteroids. Because of its great distance from the Sun and not yet being a gas giant, a bulky shell of ice surrounded Tiamat.
Discussing the nature of the fragments, let us first turn to the asteroid Psyche, an asteroid whose composition is inexplicable to classical planetology. Psyche is a metal asteroid. Its specific gravity identifies it as consisting primarily of iron and nickel. The remarkably high density makes Psyche a fragment originating from the core of the planet.5 Thus, its chemical composition is easily explicable in our model.
Asteroids consisting dominantly of metals are rare. The majority of them are composed of oxides, which makes them consistent with our model as they simply originate from the proportionally dominating mantle volume. Due to the predominant covalent chemical bonding oxides are generally high-melting, hard and brittle. In a cooled down state, it is difficult to compress them into a solid, void-free body. The mini-gravity of asteroids falls far below the requirements for gravitational compression. In the absence of high pressure and high temperature at the same time, we can expect at best loose agglomerated chunks of dust or clumps stuck together e.g. by water acting as glue. Instead, we find dense, massive rocks.
Still, other asteroids exhibit a surprisingly low density. We assume them to be fragments built from agglomerated pebbles and small particles with water acting as a binder. The largest object in the asteroid belt, the dwarf planet Ceres, belongs to these low-density types. At 2,080 kg/m3 Ceres is not as light as water, but its specific gravity makes water a significant proportion of its mass.
Already during the expansion of the explosion cloud, the accretion disk moved on, and the temperature in the cloud decreased. Freezing water glued particles and slag into clumps. By this, a multi-phase composite was formed. In the dwarf planet Ceres we meet the largest representative of such a ‘condensate asteroid’. When saltwater diffuses in space, the salt is left behind. Thus, salt stains on the surface of Ceres prove the presence of saline water which the small planet, despite icy temperatures, slowly loses by sublimation.
Monolithic stony asteroids circle the Sun at about the same distance as Ceres, but are of irregular shape. To these larger ones belongs the asteroid Vesta, which has a specific gravity of 3,420 kg/m3, and the potato-shaped asteroid Ida (2,500 kg/m3), accompanied by its tiny moon Dactyl. Chemically, both these and other asteroids of similar specific gravity consist mainly of aluminum silicates. Their density ranges from that of Earth’s crust (2,500 to 3,000 kg/m3) to the density of the upper Earth’s mantle (of about 4,200 kg/m3).
The term asteroid belt suggests a dense occurrence of objects in this volume of space. In fact, and despite the large number of objects – more than 600,000 asteroids are known and the number is growing – the region is almost empty. The rarity per volume and the small size of the bodies contrast with their cratered surfaces. In our model of the exploded planet, these cratered surfaces are easily explicable. The bursting of the planet generated a cloud of fragments, initially concentrated in a comparatively small volume. The sun-hot heat of the explosion, the chaotic movements of the fragments, their collisions among each other and the barrage of the accretion disk created exactly the conditions which we expect to have caused the asteroids’ morphology. Surfaces densely pockmarked by craters, and yet at the same time polished, sometimes even superficially molten.
Since moving on comparable orbital curves, the objects in the asteroid belt exhibit a low differential velocity and therefore, collisions between asteroids generate shallow craters. The friction of dust and contact with hot ambient gas melted the surfaces of solid fragments if they were not composed of lava or molten material anyhow. The fine-grained debris and the dust of the accretion disc rubbed and polished chapped craggy surfaces.
Asteroids like Vesta prove the admissibility – more likely the correctness – of our thesis to regard them as fragments of a destroyed planet. This second-largest asteroid does not show a spherical but an elongated shape and has a much too high specific density to keep compaction as a result of gravity generated pressure plausible, not to mention the missing spherical shape.
Conspicuously Vesta is covered by the same kind of grooves which also mark the Mars moon Phobos. Different to some planetologists, we do not consider these striations to be elongation fractures, but rather as grinding marks of rubbing impacts. The grooves just preserve the shaping of Vesta in a surrounding cloud of boulders, grit and dust.
Completely in line with our model we encounter another example of proof in the asteroid Ida (Figure A). It represents an asteroid of a separate class than Ceres or Vesta. Like Vesta, it is on the one hand compact, but at the same time specifically light. Despite many impact craters, the surface is smooth as a melt. Vesta identified as a part of the mantle makes Ida a candidate for a fragment stemming from Tiamat’s crust.
The occurrence of binary and multiple asteroids proves that in the formation phase the number of objects per unit volume was large. Given the low mass of an asteroid, it needs a very low difference in velocity that in lack of any dissipative effects two bodies will stay together. Only, the existence of the huge number of objects in the explosion cloud offers a simple explanation. The bodies stayed together just by chance moving on almost identical paths.
Large amounts of vapor, gas and microparticles in the explosion cloud were velocity adjusted due to persistent interaction. Small particles and gas initially followed the cloud of heavy debris, condensed on large fragments or fell towards the Sun. Vapor and dust which did not condense became part of the accretion disk or diffused into space, where the solar wind has long since blown away the molecular and nanoscale residue of the explosion.
As the Red Sun moved away and the heat of the explosion cloud decreased by adiabatic cooling, the large fragments of Tiamat attracted, by gravity force, the cooled down gas and the vapor of the fraying cloud. Since Tiamat was an ice planet, the solid debris initially moved in a cloud of water vapor. Of sufficient gravity, large fragments surrounded themselves with an atmosphere of water vapor. As their surface cooled and the heat subsided further, the biggest fragments transformed into water coated dwarf planets.
If we want to study the structure of Tiamat, we only have to look at the scattered debris which was also directed on trajectories crossing Earth’s orbit. Chondritic meteorites, which fall to earth in large numbers every day, show exactly the frozen state we expect if they were formed in a hot cloud of particles. The mineralogical heterogeneous composition of meteorites in the millimeter and micrometer range proves their formation from a mixture of materials that clumped and got sintered in a hot, chemically and mineralogically complex environment. The main constituents of these meteorites are oxides and sulfides, occasionally interspersed with metals. These meteorites reflect in their structure, diversity and chemical composition what the exploded Tiamat looked like.
Metal meteorites and metallic asteroids as well as the metal inclusions in chondritic meteorites originate from the core of the planet. The sudden pressure relief after the mantle burst off brought the metal in the small core of the planet to a boil. Thus, released from the pressure of the surrounding mantle, metal evaporated from the surface of the fragments of the core and immediately coalesced again into small drops. Large-scale gas atomization for the production of fine-grained metal powders works exactly according to this principle.7 This technical analogy, which illustrates meteor formation, continues in the way a spray dryer works. 8 By use of this technique, metal and/or ceramic suspensions of microscopic particles (pure or mixed) are dried in the heat and aggregated to a technically manageable, coarser powder. Here in analogy, the low-melting components in agglomerated lumps functioned as putty.
Composites of structure and density of meteorites like the Mauerkirchen specimen cannot have been formed in a cold protoplanetary accretion cloud. The differentiated formation and the highly-dense microstructure require separation and segregation at a high temperature and under high pressure. Not only the chondritic meteorites but also the rare iron meteorites fit into the proposed model. These metal meteorites originate like the asteroid Psyche from the metal core of Tiamat. They form their own meteorite class as they were too large to act as glue for ceramic particles but too small to attract dust and vapor. Residual dust which stuck to the surface evaporated or got polished away when the bulky metallic meteorite penetrated Earth’s atmosphere and its surface got heated up to melting temperatures.
The destruction of Tiamat solves the mystery of the origin of the giant asteroids which in the relatively recent past smashed into the inner planets. This holds in particular for Venus. A giant impact, which cannot have occurred hundreds of thousands of years ago, turned the planet Venus upside down. The impact turned a formerly Earth-like planet into an object whose condition can be explained solely as the result of a mega-impact. This topic will be discussed in a future article.
Fragments which were directed into wide orbits are no less interesting. Without a sound explanation existing, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn are objects of very different chemical compositions. The differences could hardly be greater. The density of the Galilean moons of Jupiter ranges from 1,830 kg/m3 (Callisto) to 3,560 kg/m3 (Io). Probably not by chance, a similar diversity characterizes these moons as those we found for the objects in the asteroid belt. We come across moons such as Io, which like Mars consists of solid rock, others are enveloped by a thick layer of water, such as the moon Enceladus (density 1,610 kg/m3) and Rhea (density 1,230 kg/m3). The specific density of the lightest of Saturn’s large moons, Thetys (984 kg/m3), calls for it to be made almost entirely of water ice. If we relocate the formation of these moons into the asteroid belt, and if they are fragments of the planet Tiamat, we obtain a plausible answer to the question of how their diversity came about. Their variety simply reflects their origin from different planetary shells.
Another eye-catching and enigmatic moon that can be easily accommodated in our model is Saturn’s moon Hyperion (see Figure C). Its lamellar structure with macroscopic cavities between the lamellae explains its low bulk density of 580 kg/m3. In our hypothesis, this moon is a remarkably fitting example of where the hard silicate skeleton of a planetary fragment remained, while intermediate layers of water ice and other volatile components evaporated in the heat of the explosion and the accretion disk. Alternatively, residual water later slowly sublimated into space because the gravity of the little moon could not bind it. The formation of such a sponge structure by agglomeration is impossible since a solvent environment is required for such a structure to be formed. This peculiar moon serves also as an example of how insufficient the gravity of objects of this mass (~1019 kg) is to form a dense block by gravitationally generated pressure.
Certainly, not all moons of the gas planets are the children of the lost planet. In addition to the moons which we suspect to be large fragments of the planet Tiamat, there are others to which we tend to assign their origin in the Kuiper Belt. In their case, during its slow passage through the Oort Cloud and Kuiper Belt the Red Sun’s gravity may have caused their deflection into the planetary system. Also, the extremely elliptical orbits of some plutoids indicate an external heavy-mass deflector.
If we apply the logic of Occam’s razor 14 to explain the status of the solar system, and the asteroid belt, in particular, the assumption of a destructed fifth planet becomes compelling. Of all proposed and thinkable explanations, our model of the destruction of the fifth planet in the cosmic saw of an accretion disc is not only the most comprehensive but also the most contradiction-free. The starting and key premise of our model is the passage of the Red Sun with an accretion disc as an essential feature. Elaborating this model, we explain the existence of the asteroid belt, the structure of its bodies, the planetary orbits, the origin of moons and giant grazers, massive enough to shake planets. In short, the state of the solar system.
Relevant to prehistory, we put forward arguments that the planetary system in its present state is by far not primordial, but on a geologic time scale has only recently been reshaped to its present state. This was a major cosmic event that mankind witnessed, endured and by luck survived.