Research Article

The Origin of Chaos in the Outer Solar System

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Science  19 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5409, pp. 1877-1881
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5409.1877

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Abstract

Classical analytic theories of the solar system indicate that it is stable, but numerical integrations suggest that it is chaotic. This disagreement is resolved by a new analytic theory. The theory shows that the chaos among the jovian planets results from the overlap of the components of a mean motion resonance among Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus, and provides rough estimates of the Lyapunov time (107 years) and the dynamical lifetime of Uranus (1018 years). The jovian planets must have entered the resonance after all the gas and most of the planetesimals in the protoplanetary disk were removed.

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