by Tom Van Flandern
The hypothesis of the explosion of a
number of planets and moons of our solar system during its
4.6-billion-year history is in excellent accord with all known
observational constraints, even without adjustable parameters. Many
of its boldest predictions have been fulfilled. In most instances,
these predictions were judged highly unlikely by the several
standard models the eph would replace. And in several cases, the
entire model was at risk to be falsified if the prediction failed.
The successful predictions include:
(1) satellites of asteroids
(2) satellites of comets
(3) salt water in meteorites
(4) “roll marks” leading to
boulders on asteroids
(5) the time and peak rate
of the 1999 Leonid meteor storm
(6) explosion signatures for
(7) strongly spiked energy
parameter for new comets
(8) distribution of black
material on slowly rotating airless bodies
(9) splitting velocities of
(10) Mars is a former moon
of an exploded planet
Where It Began – the
Titius-Bode Law of Planetary Spacing
In the latter half of the 18th century, when only six major planets
were known, interest was attracted to the regularity of the spacing
of their orbits from the Sun. The table shows the Titius-Bode law of
planetary spacing, comparing actual and formula values. This in turn
drew attention to the large gap between Mars and Jupiter, apparently
just large enough for one additional planet.
Today we know of tens of thousands of
“minor planets” or asteroids with planet-like orbits at that average
mean distance from the Sun.
of Planetary Spacing
distance in au =0.4+0.3*2(n-2)
With the discovery of the second
asteroid in 1802, Olbers proposed that many more asteroids would be
found because the planet that belonged at that distance must have
exploded. This marked the birth of the exploded planet hypothesis.
It seemed the most reasonable explanation until 1814, when Lagrange
found that the highly elongated orbits of comets could also be
readily explained by such a planetary explosion.
That, unfortunately, challenged the
prevailing theory of cometary origins of the times, the Laplacian
primeval solar nebula hypothesis. Comets were supposed to be
primitive bodies left over from the solar nebula in the outer solar
system. This challenge incited Laplace supporters to attack the
exploded planet hypothesis (eph). Lagrange died in the same year, and
support for his viewpoint died with him when no one else was willing
to step into the line of fire.
Objection – All Asteroids Can’t Come From One Planet
In the 1860s, Simon Newcomb suggested a test to distinguish the two
theories of origin of the asteroids. If they came from an exploded
planet, all of them should reach some common distance from the Sun,
the distance at which the explosion occurred, somewhere along each
orbit. But if asteroids came from the primeval solar nebula, then
roughly circular, non-intersecting orbits ought to occur over a wide
range of solar distances between Mars and Jupiter.
Newcomb applied the test and determined that several asteroids had
non-intersecting orbits. He therefore concluded that the solar
nebula hypothesis was the better model. Newcomb’s basic idea was a
good one. But only a few dozen asteroids were known at the time, and
Newcomb did not anticipate several confounding factors for this
test. Because Newcomb didn’t realize how many asteroids would
eventually be found, he didn’t appreciate the frequency of asteroid
collisions, which tend (on average) to circularize orbits.
He also did not appreciate that
planetary perturbations, especially by Jupiter, can change the
long-term average eccentricity (degree of circularity) of each
asteroid’s orbit. Finally, Newcomb did not consider that more than
one planet might have exploded, contributing additional asteroids
with some different mean distance. In Newcomb’s time, no evidence
existed to justify these complications.
When Newcomb’s test is redone today, the result is that an explosion
origin is strongly indicated for main belt asteroids. In fact, the
totality of evidence indicates two exploded parent bodies,
the main asteroid belt at the “missing planet” location, and
near the present-day orbit of Mars.
This article will review that
Where Did All
the Mass Go?
Although over 10,000 asteroids have well-determined orbits, the
combined mass of all other asteroids is not as great as that of the
largest asteroid, Ceres. That makes the total mass of the asteroid
belt only about 0.001 of the mass of the Earth. A frequently asked
question is, if a major planet exploded, where is the rest of its
Consider what would happen if the Earth exploded today. Surface and
crustal rocks would shatter and fragment, but remain rocks. However,
rocks from depths greater than about 40 km are under so much
pressure at high temperature that, if suddenly released into a
vacuum, such rocks would vaporize. As a consequence, over 99% of the
Earth’s total mass would vaporize in an explosion, with only its
low-pressure crustal and upper mantle layers surviving.
The situation worsens for a larger planet, where the interior
pressures and temperatures get higher more quickly with depth. In
fact, all planets in our solar system more massive than Earth
(starting with Uranus at about 15 Earth masses) are gas giants with
no solid surfaces, and would be expected to leave no asteroids if
they exploded. Bodies smaller than Earth, such as our Moon, would
leave a substantially higher percentage of their mass in asteroids.
But the Moon has only about 0.01 of Earth’s mass to begin with.
In short, asteroid belts with masses of order 0.001 Earth masses are
the norm when terrestrial-planet-sized bodies explode. Meteorites
provide direct evidence for this scenario of rocks either surviving
or being vaporized. Various chondrite meteorites (by far the most
common type) show all stages of partial melting from mild to almost
completely vaporized. Indeed, it is the abundant melt droplets,
called “chondrules”, that give chondrite meteorites their name.
Evidence for Exploded Planets
Two important lines of evidence that asteroids originated in an
explosion are the explosion signatures (described later in this
article), and the rms velocity among asteroids, which is as large as
is allowed by the laws of dynamics for stable orbits. In other
words, the asteroid belt is certainly the remnant of a larger
population of bodies, many of which gravitationally escaped the
solar system or collided with the Sun or planets.
Two important lines of evidence that meteoroids originated in an
(1) The most common meteorite type,
all been partially melted by exposure to a “rapid heating event”.
Other asteroids show exposure to a heavy neutron flux. Blackening
and shock are also common traits.
(2) The time meteoroids have been
traveling in space exposed to cosmic rays is relatively short,
typically millions of years. Evidence of multiple exposure-age
patterns, as would happen from repeated break-ups, is generally not
Comets are so strikingly similar to asteroids that no defining
characteristic to distinguish one from the other has yet been
devised. This is rather opposite to expectations of the solar nebula
hypothesis, because comets should have been formed in the outer
solar system far from the main asteroid belt.
A traceback of orbits
of “new” comets (that have not mixed with the planets before)
indicates statistically that these probably originated at a common
time and place, 3.2 Mya. [i] But it should be noted that galactic
tidal forces would eliminate comets from any bodies that exploded
prior to 10 Mya, so only very recent explosions can produce comets
that would remain visible today.
Figure 1. Saturn’s
black-and-white moon Iapetus.
A major explosion would send a blast
wave through the solar system, blackening exposed, airless surfaces
in its path. Most such solar system surfaces are indeed blackened,
even for icy satellites. But a few cases have such slow rotation
that only a little over half of the moon gets blackened.
moon Iapetus is one such case, because its rotation period is nearly
80 days long. Figure 1 shows a spacecraft image of
Iapetus. One side
is icy bright; the other is coal black. The difference in albedo is
a factor of five. Gray areas are extrapolations of black areas into
regions not yet photographed. As such, they represent a prediction
of what will be seen when a future spacecraft (Cassini?) completes
Perhaps the most basic explosion indicator is that all fragments of
significant mass will trap smaller nearby debris from the explosion
into satellite orbits. So explosions tend to form asteroids and
comets with multiple nuclei of all sizes. Collisions, by contrast,
normally cannot produce fragments in orbits because any debris
orbits must lead either to escape or to re-collision with the
Moreover, collisions tend to cause
existing satellites to escape, leading to asteroid “families” (many
of which are seen). Our prediction that asteroids and comets would
often be found to have satellites has been confirmed in recent
years. The first spacecraft finding (by Galileo) was of moon Dactyl
orbiting asteroid Ida in 1993. More recently, Hubble imagery found
Comet Hale-Bopp has at least one,
and possibly three or more, secondary nuclei.
Over 100 additional lines of evidence related to the eph and the
standard models it would replace are summarized in
Did More Than
One Planet Explode?
Many lines of evidence suggest more than one planetary explosion in
the solar system’s history. The discovery of one, and probably two,
new asteroid belts orbiting the Sun beyond Neptune is especially
suggestive, given that the main asteroid belt is apparently of
exploded planet origin. Evidence of the “late heavy bombardment” in
the early solar system is another strong indicator. These points are
discussed later in this article.
On Earth, geological boundaries are accompanied by mass extinctions
at five epochs over the last billion years. Two of the most intense
of these, the P/T boundary about 250 Mya, and the K/T boundary (and
the extinction of dinosaurs) at 65 Mya, are the most likely to be
associated with the damage to Earth’s biosphere expected from a
major planet explosion.
Meteorites provide direct evidence about their parent bodies. Yet
this evidence strongly indicates at least 3-4 distinct parent
bodies. Oxygen isotope ratios are generally similar for related
planetary bodies, such as all native Earth and Moon rocks. These
ratios for meteorites require at least two distinct, unrelated
parent bodies, and probably more.
Cosmic ray exposure ages of meteorites
indicate how long these bodies have been exposed to space, because
cosmic rays can penetrate only about a meter into a solid body.
Collisional break-up can reset the exposure ages for some
meteorites, and produce “double exposure” or other complexities for
others. The data show clusterings of exposure ages around several
different primary epochs, suggesting multiple explosion epochs.
Main belt asteroids come in many types, but most of these are
sub-type distinctions. 80% of all main belt asteroids are of type C
(“carbonaceous”), and most of the remaining 20% are of type S (“silicaceous”).
The former are found predominately in the middle and outer belt,
while the latter are mostly in the inner belt, the part that lies
closest to Mars. These two types are unlikely to have had the same
Finally, it should be noted that we can estimate the total mass of
the body that exploded to produce all the comets seen today. (The
lifetime of those comets is limited to 10 million years by galactic
tidal forces and planetary perturbations.) That parent body mass is
almost certainly less than the size of our Moon, because the
carbonaceous meteorites most closely associated with comets indicate
a parent body that was too small to chemically differentiate.
Signatures in the Main Asteroid Belt
In Figure 2, we show a plot of average orbital eccentricity (called
“proper eccentricity”) versus average mean distance (called “proper
semi-major axis”) for thousands of main-belt asteroids. We included
the numbered asteroids having periods between one-half and one-third
the period of Jupiter. If the primeval solar nebula hypothesis were
correct, numbers of asteroids with near-zero eccentricity would be
roughly equal at all mean distances well away from the orbits of
Mars and Jupiter.
Indeed, nebular drag and collisions
would ensure that orbits with zero eccentricity were preferred. By
contrast, if the exploded planet hypothesis is correct, a minimum
eccentricity, increasing to either side of a mean distance of about
2.8 au, should be evident in the plot. The “V”-shaped line shows the
theoretical minimum eccentricity, according to the eph.
Figure 2. Semi-major
axis (mean distance from Sun) vs. eccentricity
for main belt
asteroids near theoretical parent planet distance, showing an
We see in Figure 2 that, despite about
as much scattering across the minimum line as expected (increasing
toward Jupiter on the right), the densest number counts trend up and
away, paralleling the V-shaped line, on both sides of the inferred
exploded planet distance, 2.82 au. It is difficult to imagine this
explosion-predicted low-eccentricity avoidance occurring by chance –
especially since the primeval solar nebula hypothesis predicts a
preference for low eccentricity values.
What we are seeing here is Newcomb’s
argument applied with modern knowledge and data. The expected
characteristic of fragments that originated in an explosion is seen.
The expected characteristic of objects present since the solar
system’s beginning, even if only collisional fragments thereof, is
Parameters for “New Comet” Orbits
Figure 3. Comet
energies before (left) and after (right) passage through planetary
Plot shows number of
comets (ordinate) versus energy parameter (abscissa).
Astonishingly, a great many comets are
discovered that have energy parameter values close to zero, the
threshold of gravitational escape, in units where Earth’s energy
parameter is –100,000. Before mixing with the planets, a clustering
of energy parameters near –5 exists, as shown in the left half of
However, as these same comets recede
again far from the planets, the clustering property is virtually
destroyed, as shown on the right side of Figure 3. The scattering is
so great that no clustering near –5 or any other value will exist
the next time around. So these comets must have been making their
first visit to the planetary part of the solar system. For that
reason, they are called “new comets”.
These new comets, first noted by Oort, were not
the belt of comets
beyond Pluto expected by the primeval solar nebula hypothesis. They
arrive from all directions on the sky, with no tendency to be
concentrated toward the plane of the planets. Also, they move in
directions opposite to the planets as often as in directions
consistent with the planets.
Because of these traits and a mean
distance of 1000 times greater than that of Pluto from the Sun, the
far-away source of Oort’s new comets was designated the “Oort
The exploded planet hypothesis predicted something similar.
energy parameter implies a particular period of revolution around
the Sun. If a planet exploded “x” years ago, then new comets
returning for the first time today would arrive on orbits with
period “x”. Comets with shorter periods would have returned in the
past, mixing with the planets and eventually being eliminated (or
now in the process of being eliminated).
Comets with longer periods would not yet
have returned for the first time. So the eph predicts that all new
comets should have the same period “x”, and therefore the same
energy parameter corresponding to a period of “x”. The center of the
spike on the left side of Figure 3 corresponds to a period of 3.2
million years, which is therefore the time since the last explosion
Figure 4. Comet
energies before passage through planetary region for class 1A comets
(best orbits) on left,
and for classes 1B,
2A, 2B comets (less accurate orbits) on right.
In the 1970s, astronomer Opik devised a
test to determine if the Oort cloud really existed, or if the
“clustering” was really a spike, as predicted by the exploded planet
hypothesis. The published orbits of new comets have an orbit quality
parameter, which indicates which orbits ought to be very accurate
because of a long observed arc with lots of well-distributed
observations (class 1A); and which orbits ought to have higher
observational errors because of short arcs and/or fewer or poorly
distributed observations (classes 1B, 2A and 2B).
In the standard model with an Oort cloud
of comets, there is no obvious way to tell the difference between
comets anywhere in the energy parameter range on the left side of
Figure 3. So there is no reason for any observational class of comet
to be other than randomly distributed among all the comets in that
figure. If all the orbits could be improved to class 1A, the overall
average appearance of the distribution ought to be unchanged.
However, in the eph, the real distribution would have all the comets
in a single bin, and all the observed spread of energy parameter
values would be due to observational error. So comets of
observational classes 1B, 2A and 2B ought to have a broader
distribution than class 1A comets because 1A comet orbits are closer
to reality (less observational error).
And if all the comets of
classes 1B, 2A and 2B were improved to class 1A, the whole
distribution should narrow greatly. Opik’s test was to separate
comets of class 1A from the other classes to determine if the
distribution was significantly broader for the other classes than
for class 1A (indicating the eph is right), or essentially the same
for both groups (indicating the Oort cloud is right).
The results are shown on the left side of Figure 4 for new class 1A
comets and on the right side of the same figure for new comets of
classes 1B, 2A and 2B.
(Note that these orbit quality codes are
assigned by cometary astronomers using published criteria. This
author had no role in determining these designations.)
The left side
shows 2.6 times as many comets in the central spike as in the
immediately adjoining bins combined. The right side shows only 0.8
times as many comets in the central spike as in the two adjoining
bins, and has a clearly broader distribution.
The Opik test is cleanly passed by the exploded planet hypothesis
but not by the Oort cloud model. Anyone working with the published
new comet data could arrive at the same conclusion. If skeptical
readers suspect that the author may have consciously or
unconsciously selected the data so as to give a favorable outcome,
recall that Opik, who strongly doubted the eph when he thought of
this test, came to the same conclusion even with the smaller amount
of comet data available to him 20 years ago.
In essence, we have proved that
Lagrange’s instinct 200 years ago was right on target:
least most of them) acquired their extremely elongated,
planet-crossing orbits by ejection in an explosion that we can now
date at 3.2 million years ago. New comets are the continuing rainback of debris from that explosion.
Asteroids and Comets
If asteroids and comets are the products of accretion from a nebula,
or even from collisional break-ups, they will invariably be isolated
single bodies because their gravitational fields are too weak to
effect captures. For example, in a break-up event, most debris
escapes, and what does not falls back onto the surface it was
ejected from after one orbit. Even if it managed to barely miss the
surface, tidal forces would bring it back down in short order.
By contrast, in the eph, space is filled with debris just after the
explosion. Large fragments will find lots of debris inside their
gravitational spheres of influence, and these will remain in stable
orbits as permanent satellites of these larger fragments. For that
reason, I presented papers at the International Astronomical Union
meeting in Argentina in 1991, and the Flagstaff meeting of asteroid,
comet, and meteorite experts in that same year, pointing out the eph
Specifically, spacecraft visiting
asteroids (or comets) should find at least one of the larger debris
bodies (satellites) in orbit around the asteroid (or comet) primary
nucleus. This prediction, also published in
considered extremely unlikely by mainstream astronomers, one of whom
made a public wager with me that it would not happen.
The Galileo spacecraft flew by asteroid Ida in 1993, and returned
images showing a 1-km satellite (now named Dactyl) in a stable orbit
around its nucleus. Since that discovery, two telescopic discoveries
of satellites of other asteroids have been made.
supplements occultation and radar evidence of long standing
suggesting asteroid satellites.
A year before the NEAR spacecraft went
into orbit around asteroid Eros in February 2000, I altered the
general prediction of satellites to a more specific one: If the
gravity field of an asteroid is too irregular for stable orbits to
exist near the synchronous orbit (as is the case for Eros), then the
debris that once orbited the nucleus would now be found as intact
boulders lying on the asteroid surface.
These would be easy to identify because
of their tangential touchdown onto the asteroid, resulting in
considerable rolling from their orbital momentum. So “roll marks”
were the predicted identifier to show that boulders were former
Figure 5. NEAR
spacecraft photo of a large crater on asteroid Eros
with a trail across a
crater rim, leading to an interior boulder.
The first image taken by the spacecraft
from orbit around Eros is shown in Figure 5. The two blocks are
areas where contrast was stretched for better visibility of the
“roll mark”. The image appears to show a track starting in a random
location, going up the outside wall of a crater, down the inside
wall, and ending in a 50-meter boulder. Many additional examples of
boulders, tracks, and boulders at the ends of tracks can be seen in
later spacecraft images.
In the meantime, evidence for comet satellites was mounting as well.
The Giotto spacecraft was the first to approach a comet, where it
found “brightness concentrations” in the inner coma referred to as
“dust spikes”. [vii] Then Hubble Space Telescope observations of
Comet Hale-Bopp showed at least one, and probably three secondary
nuclei orbiting the primary comet nucleus.
finding was controversial, the satellite interpretation was
subsequently confirmed as the most reasonable explanation by other
investigators. [viii] The largest of these secondary bodies is a
30-km satellite of an estimated 70-km primary nucleus.
Another strong test distinguishing the eph from the standard models
comes from comet split-velocity data. The eph leads to what I call
the “satellite model” as an explanation of what a comet is and how
it behaves. The standard model for comets is the so-called “dirty
snowball” model. In the former case, comets are rocky asteroids
surrounded by a debris cloud. In the latter case, they are a
snow-ice mixture contaminated with dust packed into a lone nucleus
that is eruptive when exposed to sunlight.
It ought to be easy to
distinguish these two extreme possibilities from observations. And
indeed, it is. One of the strongest such tests follows.
Some comets are observed to “split” into two or more comets. That
was unexpected behavior in the dirty snowball model, but is
explained after the fact as the breaking apart of the snowy nucleus
under the action of strong jets. “Splitting” is required by the
satellite model because, as the comet approaches the Sun and its
gravitational sphere of influence shrinks, some outer satellites may
find themselves outside the sphere of influence. Such objects then
escape into independent solar orbits. The escape event will appear
to a distant observer as a “split” of the comet into two or more
The test involves the velocity of the fragment comets relative to
the original comet from which they split. In the dirty snowball
model, the velocity is the result of jet action. The energy source
might be entirely internal to the comet, in which case the velocity
of ejection of split comet fragments will be independent of the
distance from the Sun at which the split occurs.
Alternatively, the energy for the split
in the dirty snowball model might come from solar light, solar heat,
solar wind, solar magnetism, or something associated with the Sun.
In all such cases, the energy ought to increase inversely with the
square of solar distance, which will yield relative velocities that
are inverse with solar distance to the first power. The dirty
snowball model, because it does not predict such splits, is not
specific about which mechanism, a solar or a non-solar energy
source, is the correct one.
Figure 6. Comet split
velocities (V) vs. solar distance (R).
C = comet internal
S = solar energy;
E = eph satellite
shaded area is one
sigma observational upper and lower bounds.
By contrast, the eph and its satellite
model require gravitational escapes of satellite comets as the
sphere of influence of the primary nucleus shrinks upon approach to
the Sun. The laws of dynamics require that “split” fragment
velocities be escape velocities, which vary inversely with the
square root of solar distance. Any other observed relationship would
falsify the model.
In Figure 6, we show a plot of split-comet component relative
velocities, V, versus solar distance of the comet in astronomical
units at the time of splitting, R, on a log-log scale. The data and
its one-sigma spread lie within the shaded region. For comparison,
three theoretical curves are shown, labeled “C”, “S”, and “E”. These
represent a comet-internal energy source, a solar energy source, and
gravitational escape energies as predicted by the eph, respectively.
All curves have been shifted vertically to intersect at 1 au
(about 150 million kilometers) because
only the slopes are relevant.
It is apparent that the theoretical curve predicted by the eph model
falls within the one-sigma data region, and is therefore fully in
accord with the observations. Both of the possibilities for the
dirty snowball model fall well outside the data range by at least
four sigma. This means the dirty snowball model is excluded as an
explanation at the statistical level of better than 10,000-to-1.
In summary, we see that the satellite model for the nature of
comets, based on the eph model for the origin of comets, is
consistent with the observational data; whereas the standard model
is strongly excluded by the data.
The Late Heavy
Planetary and moon explosions are not just a recent phenomenon.
There is direct evidence for the explosion of one or more very large
planets in the very early solar system. From studies of lunar rocks
it is now known that the Moon, and presumably the entire solar
system with it, underwent a “late heavy bombardment” of unknown
origin not long after the major planets formed.
The following are relevant descriptions
of the event: [ix]
“[The late heavy bombardment] occurs
relatively late in the accretionary history of the terrestrial
planets, at a time when the vast majority of that zone’s
planetesimals are already expected to have either impacted on
the protoplanets, or been dynamically ejected from the inner
“It appears that a flux of impactors flooded the terrestrial
planets region at this point in the solar system’s history, and
is preserved in the cratering record of the heavily cratered
terrain on each planet.”
“An essential requirement of any explanation for the late heavy
bombardment is that the impactors be ‘stored’ somewhere in the
solar system until they are suddenly unleashed about 4.0 Gyr
“A plausible explanation for the late heavy bombardment remains
something of a mystery.”
“...it seems likely that the late heavy bombardment is not the
tail-off of planetary accretion but rather is a late pulse
superimposed on the tail-off. Nor is there any reason to suppose
that it was the only such pulse; it may have been preceded by
several others which are not easily discernible from it in the
In short, the late heavy bombardment, a
real solar system event, sounds like an early planetary explosion
Boundary Event at 65 Mya
The following documented geological events at
the terrestrial K/T
boundary at 65 Mya can easily be associated with a planetary
explosion event, most likely the explosion of “Planet V” near the
present-day orbit of Mars.
two boundary layers (ash and
clay) of global extent
at least eight known major
impact craters across globe from that epoch
“hot zones” of radioactivity
found in Africa at the K/T boundary
the Deccan Traps in India – the
2nd largest episode of volcanism in Earth history
changes in atmospheric and ocean
a single global fire
the extinction of 70% of all
the absence of corresponding
layers in the Antarctic
This last point might need some
clarification. If an event occurs at a great distance from the
Earth, it would potentially affect just one hemisphere of the Earth
if it is a quite sudden phenomenon. But if it lasts for more than 12
hours, as would occur for the spread in arrival times of a blast
wave from a distant planet explosion, then the Earth would rotate on
its axis, exposing most parts of the planet to the event.
However, because of the tilt of the
Earth’s axis to the mean plane of the planets, one polar region of
Earth would remain continuously hidden from such an event unless its
duration continued over many months. For the K/T boundary event,
apparently one of Earth’s polar regions has shielded.
emphasizes the likelihood that the event was of distant origin and
global extent, rather than terrestrial origin and concentrated
mainly in one area (as for a single major impact such as the Chicxulub crater formation in the Yucatan).
Mars May Be a
Former Moon of a Now-Exploded Planet
Mars is a former moon:
Mars is much less massive than
any planet not itself suspected of being a former moon
Orbit of Mars is more elliptical
than for any larger-mass planet
Spin is slower than larger
planets, except where a massive moon has intervened
Large offset of center of figure
from center of mass
Shape not in equilibrium with
Southern hemisphere is saturated
with craters, the northern has sparse cratering
The “crustal dichotomy” boundary
is nearly a great circle
North hemisphere has a smooth,
1-km-thick crust; south crust is over 20-km thick
Crustal thickness in south
decreases gradually toward hemisphere edges
Lobate scarps occur near
hemisphere divide, compressed perpendicular to boundary
Huge volcanoes arose where
uplift pressure from mass redistribution is maximal
A sudden geographic pole shift
of order 90° occurred
Much of the original atmosphere
has been lost
A sudden, massive flood with no
obvious source occurred
Xe129, a fission
product of massive explosions, has an excess abundance on
The above summarizes evidence that Mars
was not an original planet, but rather a moon of a now-exploded
planet occupying that approximate orbit. Many of these points are
the expected consequences of having a massive planet blow up nearby,
thereby blasting the facing hemisphere and leaving the shielded
hemisphere relatively unscathed.
Especially significant in this
regard is the fact that half of Mars is saturated with craters, and
half is only sparsely cratered.
Moreover, the crustal thickness has
apparently been augmented over one hemisphere by up to 20 km or so,
gradually tapering off near the hemisphere boundaries. This “crustal
dichotomy” is also readily seen in Martian elevation maps, such as
in Figure 7.
Figure 7. Mars
(white), lowland plains (shaded).
hemisphere, 180° à 0°.
hemisphere, 360° à 180°.
From Christiansen &
Hamblin (1995). [x]
The Original Solar
Putting all this evidence together, we have strong hints for two
original planets near what is now the main asteroid belt:
hypothetical “Planet V” and “Planet K”. These were probably gas
giant planets with moons of significant size, such as Mars, before
We have hints of two more asteroid belts, probably
from the explosions of two more planets (“Planet T" and “Planet X")
beyond Neptune. And we have hints for two extra-large gas giant
planets, “Planet A” and “Planet B”, that exploded back near the
solar system beginning.
Of the existing nine major planets today, we have strong evidence
that Mercury is an escaped moon of Venus
[xi], Mars is an escaped
moon of Planet V, and Pluto and its moon Charon
are escaped moons of Neptune
[xii]. If we eliminate these, then perhaps the
original solar system consisted of 12 planets arranged in 6 “twin”
pairs. Such an arrangement would be consistent with origin of all
major planets and moons by the fission process.
This model makes a major prediction that
will soon be tested: Extrasolar planets should arise in twin pairs
also, with 2-to-1 orbital period resonances common. If so, then many
cases that now appear to be single massive planets on highly
elliptical orbits will turn out, when enough observations are
accumulated, to be twin resonant planets on near-circular orbits.
The most frequently asked question about the eph is “What would
cause a planet to explode?” We will mention three theoretical
conjectures, although in-depth work must await a wider recognition
of the phenomenon in the field at large.
The earliest and simplest theoretical mechanism is that of
Ramsey [xiv], who noted that planets must evolve through a wide range of
pressures and temperatures. This is true whether they are born cold
and heat up under gravitational accretion, or born hot and cool down
by radiation of heat into space.
During the course of this evolution,
temperatures and pressures in the cores must occasionally reach a
critical point, at which a phase change (like water to ice) occurs.
This will be accompanied by a volume discontinuity, which must then
cause an Earth-sized or smaller planet to implode or explode,
depending on whether the volume decreases or increases.
The second explosion mechanism, natural fission reactors, is
currently generating some excitement in the field of geology.
uranium mine at Oklo in the Republic of Gabon is deficient in U-235
and is accompanied by fission-produced isotopes of Nd and Sm,
apparently caused by self-sustaining nuclear chain reactions about
1.8 Gyr ago. Later, other natural fission chain reactors were
discovered in the region. Today, uranium ore does not have this
capability because the proportion of U-235 in natural uranium is too
But 1.8 Gyr ago, the proportion was more
than four times greater, allowing the self-sustaining neutron chain
reactions. Additionally, these areas also functioned as fast neutron
breeder reactors, producing additional fissile material in the form
of plutonium and other trans-uranic elements. Breeding fissile
material results in possible reactor operation continuing long after
the U-235 proportion in natural uranium would have become too low to
sustain neutron chain reactions.
This proves the existence of an energy
source in nature able to produce more than an order of magnitude
more energy than radioactive decay alone. Excess planetary heat
radiation is said to be gravitational in origin because all other
proposed energy sources (e.g., radioactivity, accretion, and
thermonuclear fusion) fall short by at least two orders of
magnitude. But these natural reactors may be able to supply the
needed energy. Indeed, nuclear fission chain reactions may provide
the ignition temperature to set off thermonuclear reactions in stars
(analogous to ignition of thermonuclear bombs).
The third planetary explosion mechanism relies on one other
hypothesis not yet widely accepted, but holds out the potential for
an indefinitely large reservoir of energy for exploding even massive
planets and stars. If gravitational fields are continually
regenerated, as in LeSage particle models of gravity
[xvi], then all
masses are continually absorbing energy from this universal flux.
Normally, bodies would reach a
thermodynamic equilibrium, whereat they radiate as much heat away as
they continually absorb from the graviton flux. But something could
block this heat flow and disrupt the equilibrium. For example,
changes of state in a planet’s core might set up an insulating
layer. In that case, heat would continue to be accumulated from
graviton impacts, but could not freely radiate away. This is
obviously an unstable situation. The energy excess in the interior
of such a planet would build indefinitely until either the
insulating layer was breached or the planet blew itself apart.
We have covered most of the successful predictions of the exploded
planet hypothesis mentioned in the abstract:
(1) satellites of asteroids
(2) satellites of comets
(4) “roll marks” leading to
boulders on asteroids
(6) explosion signatures for
(7) strongly spiked energy
parameter for new comets
(8) distribution of black
material on slowly rotating airless bodies
(9) splitting velocities of
(10) Mars is a former moon of an
Two additional successes and one
additional new prediction will be mentioned briefly here.
Abstract (3): salt water in meteorites
This refers to an obvious corollary of
the eph, never explicitly put in writing in so many words. If
meteorites come from the explosion of planet-sized bodies, the water
from such bodies can be ocean water (as on Earth and as suspected
Jupiter’s moon Europa), and would therefore be expected to
contain salt from run-off of minerals from solid portions of the
Only recently has meteorite water been
tested for salt content for the first time, with the surprising
result that sodium chloride was found.
[xvii] Certain aspects of
this discovery suggest that water was flowing on the parent body
from which the meteorite came.
"The existence of a water-soluble
salt in this meteorite is astonishing,” wrote R.N. Clayton of the
University of Chicago in the reference cited.
True, unless one had
the exploded planet hypothesis in mind.
Supplementing the idea of salt water in meteorites, we did
explicitly predict salt water in comets.
“In March, a long sodium tail was
Comet Hale-Bopp. Aside from the general interest
in this new type of comet tail, it was noted that the sodium
ions have a half-life of just half a day, too short to survive a
trip from the nucleus to the farthest parts of the tail.
So the sodium must be conveyed as
part of a parent molecule that is split by the solar wind into
sodium and some other ions. The significance of this for comet
models is that the exploded planet hypothesis says that comets
originated in the explosion of a water-bearing planet. If that
planetary water was salt water, as planetary oceans on Earth all
tend to be, then water in comets would be salt water.
The parent molecule for the salt
escaping the comet’s coma into the tail would be sodium chloride
(salt), and the “other ions” would be chlorine ions. The unknown
parent molecule has not yet been officially discovered. But one
can readily see that the discovery of chlorine in comets to go
along with this discovery of sodium would make a strong case for
the planetary origin scenario.”
Abstract (5): the time and peak rate of the
1999 Leonid meteor storm
Esko Lyytinen of Finland used the
exploded planet hypothesis as a model for understanding and
predicting the behavior of meteor storms. These had never before
been successfully predicted. Although nearly a dozen professional
astronomers attempted predictions for the possible November 1999
storm, only three teams had results that were correct for the time
of the event, and only Lyytinen had both the time and the peak
meteor rate correct to within the stated error bars.
The complete story of this prediction,
the expedition, and its successful conclusion are beyond the scope
of this paper, but may be found in the reference.
With the documented track record the eph has now established, it is
small wonder that professional astronomers are no longer willing to
make wagers with eph proponents about the outcome of either recent
or future eph predictions. But sadly, research funding is still
being poured almost exclusively into competitor theories.
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former asteroidal planet as the origin of comets”, Icarus 36,
[ii] Z. Sekanina (1999), “Detection of a satellite orbiting the
nucleus of Comet Hale-Bopp (C/1995 O1)”, Earth, Moon & Planets
[iii] T. Van Flandern (1993; 2nd edition 1999), Dark Matter,
Missing Planets and New Comets, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley,
[iv] T. Van Flandern (1992), “Minor satellites and the Gaspra
encounter”, Asteroids, Comets, Meteors 1991, LPI, Houston,
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[vi] T. Van Flandern (1999), “Status of ‘the NEAR challenge’”,
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[vii] T. LeDuin, A.C. Levasseur-Rigourd & J.B. Renard (1993),
“Dust and gas brightness profiles in the Grigg-Skjellerup coma
from OPE/Giotto”, in Abstracts for IAU Symposium 160: Asteroids,
Comets, Meteors 1993, Belgirate (Navara) Italy, 182.
[viii] E. Marchis, H. Bochnhardt, O.R. Hainaut & D. Le Mignant
(1999), “Adaptive optics observations of the innermost coma of
C/1995 O1: Are there a ‘Hale’ and a ‘Bopp’ in comet Hale-Bopp?”,
Astron.Astrophys. 349, 985-995.
[ix] P.R. Weissman (1989), “The impact history of the solar
system: implications for the origin of atmospheres," in Origin
and Evolution of Planetary and Satellite Atmospheres, S.K.
Atreya, J.B. Pollack, and M.S. Matthews, eds., Univ. of Arizona
Press, Tucson, 247-249.
[x] E.H. Christiansen & W.K. Hamblin (1995), Exploring the
Planets, 2nd ed., Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 144.
[xi] T.C. Van Flandern & R.S. Harrington (1976), “A dynamical
investigation of the conjecture that Mercury is an escaped
satellite of Venus”, Icarus 28, 435-440.
[xii] R.S. Harrington & T.C. Van Flandern (1979), “The
satellites of Neptune and the origin of Pluto”, Icarus 39,
[xiii] T. Van Flandern (1997), “The original solar system”,
MetaRes.Bull. 6, 17-29. See also <http://metaresearch.org>.
[xiv] W.H. Ramsey (1950), “On the instability of small planetary
cores (I)”, Mon.Not.Roy.Astr.Soc. 110, 325-338.
[xv] (1998), EOS 79 (9/22), 451 & 456. See also <http://www.ans.org/pi/np/oklo/>.
[xvi] T. Van Flandern (1996), “Possible new properties of
gravity”, Astrophys.&SpaceSci. 244, 249-261.
[xvii] (1999), Science 285, 1364-1365 & 1377-1379:
[xviii] T. Van Flandern (1997), “Comet Hale-Bopp update”,
MetaRes.Bull. 6, 29-32: [The author gratefully acknowledges
Richard Hoagland of the Enterprise Mission for this argument.]
[xix] E. Lyytinen (1999), “Leonid predictions for the years
1999-2007 with the satellite model of comets”, MetaRes.Bull. 8,
33-40; T. Van Flandern (1999), “1999 Leonid meteor storm – How
the predictions fared”, MetaRes.Bull. 8, 59-63.