Asteroids and Life: How Special Is the Solar System?OPEN ACCESS 

Rebecca G. Martin and Mario Livio

The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 926, Number 2
Published: 18 February 2022


“Asteroid impacts with Earth may have played an essential role in the emergence of life on Earth through their creation of favorable niches for life, changes to the atmosphere, and delivery of water. Consequently, we suggest two potential requirements for life in an exoplanetary system: first, that the system has an asteroid belt, and second, that there is a mechanism to drive asteroids to impact the terrestrial habitable planet. Since in the solar system theν6secular resonance has been shown to have been important in driving these impacts, we explore how the masses and locations of two giant planets determine the location and strength of this secular resonance. Examining observed exoplanetary systems with two giant planets, we find that a secular resonance within the asteroid belt region may not be uncommon. Hence, the solar system is somewhat special, but the degree of fine-tuning that may be necessary for the emergence of life is not excessive. Finally, withn-body simulations, we show that when the two giant planets are close to the 2:1 mean motion resonance, the asteroid belt is unstable, but this does not lead to increased asteroid delivery.”