Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-768ffcd9cc-rq46b Total loading time: 0.301 Render date: 2022-12-06T00:10:13.372Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

The challenge of the exploded planet hypothesis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 June 2007

Tom Van Flandern
Meta Research, 994 Woolsey Ct, Saquim WA 98382-5058, USA e-mail:


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 or ad hoc helper hypotheses. Many of its boldest predictions have been fulfilled. In most instances, these predictions were judged highly unlikely by the current standard models. Moreover, in several cases, the entire exploded planet model was at risk of being falsified if the predictions 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 asteroids; (7) the strongly spiked energy parameter for new comets; (8) the distribution of black material on slowly rotating airless bodies; (9) splitting velocities of comets; (10) the asteroid-like nature of Deep Impact target Comet Tempel 1; and (11) the presence of high-formation-temperature minerals in the Stardust comet dust sample return. In physics and astronomy, hypotheses are either falsified if their predictions fail, or proved to be of value if they succeed. By all existing evidence, the exploded planet hypothesis has proved far more useful than the half-dozen or so hypotheses it would replace. Among the many important corollaries are these. (a) Perhaps as many as six former planets of our Solar System have exploded over its 4.6-billion-year history. (b) In particular, Mars is not an original planet, but a former moon of an exploded planet. (c) As a major player in Solar System evolution, the exploded planet scenario must be considered as a likely propagation vehicle for the spread of biogenic organisms. We conclude with a brief mention of three possible planetary explosion mechanisms.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2007

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Binzel, R.P. & Van Flandern, T.C. (1979). Minor planets: the discovery of minor satellites. Science 203, 903905.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Christiansen, E.H. & Hamblin, W.K. (1995). Exploring the Planets, 2nd edn, p. 144. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.Google Scholar
Clayton, R.N. (1999). Primordial water. Science 285, 13641365 & 13771379.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cohen, B.A., Hewins, R.H. & Yu, Y. (2000). Evaporation in the young solar nebula as the origin of ‘just-right’ melting of chondrules. Nature 406, 600602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cowen, R. (1997). A moon for Dionysus. Sci. News 152, 200.Google Scholar
Harrington, R.S. & Van Flandern, T.C. (1979). The satellites of Neptune and the origin of Pluto. Icarus 39, 131136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Herndon, J.M. (1998). Examining the overlooked implications of natural nuclear reactors. Eos (Transact. Amer. Geophys. Union) 79, 451 & 456; see also and Scholar
Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe, N.C. (1979). Diseases from Space. Dent, London.Google Scholar
Jewett, D.L. (2007). The conceptual benefits of ‘exploding planets’ as a mechanism for Panspermia. (in process).Google Scholar
Jones, D.C., Williams, I.P. & Melita, M.D. (2005). The dynamics of objects in the inner Edgeworth–Kuiper belt. Earth, Moon & Planets 97, 435458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kerr, R.A. (1999). Asteroids form rocky relationships. Science 284, 10991101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
LeDuin, T., Levasseur-Rigourd, A.C. & Renard, J.B. (1993). Dust and gas brightness profiles in the Grigg–Skjellerup coma from OPE/Giotto. In Abstracts for IAU Symposium 160: Asteroids, Comets, Meteors, Belgirate (Navara), Italy, 1991, p. 182. Lunar & Planetary Institute, Houston, TK.Google Scholar
Liffman, K. (1992). The formation of chondrules via ablation. Icarus 100, 608620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lipton, P. (2005). Testing hypotheses: prediction and prejudice. Science 307, 219.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Littmann, M. (1988). Planets Beyond, 1922. Wiley Science Editions, New York.Google Scholar
Lyytinen, E. (1999). Leonid predictions for the years 1999–2007 with the satellite model of comets. Meta Res. Bull. 8, 3340.Google Scholar
Lyytinen, E. & Van Flandern, T. (2004). Perseid one-revolution outburst in 2004. WGN (J. of Int'l. Meteor Org.) 32, 2 & 5153.Google Scholar
Marchis, E., Bochnhardt, H., Hainaut, O.R. & Le Mignant, D. (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, 985995.Google Scholar
Miles, K.A. & Peters, C.F. II (1997). Origins of the asteroids. Scholar
Newcomb, S. (1860). On the Secular Variations and Mutual Relations of the Orbits of the Asteroids, Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 5, 123152.Google Scholar
Opik, E.J. (1978). The missing planet. Moon and the Planets 18, 327337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ramsey, W.H. (1950). On the instability of small planetary cores (I). Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 110, 325338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schultz, P.H. & Posin, S. (1988). Global catastrophes in Earth history. LPI Contrib. 673, 168169.Google Scholar
Sekanina, Z. (1982). The problem of split comets in review. Comets, pp. 251287. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ.Google Scholar
Sekanina, Z. (1997). Detection of a satellite orbiting the nucleus of Comet Hale–Bopp (C/1995 O1). Earth, Moon & Planets 77, 155163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Taylor, G.J. & Heymann, D. (1969). Shock, reheating, and the gas retention ages of chondrites. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 7, 151161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Van Flandern, T. (1978). A former asteroidal planet as the origin of comets. Icarus 36, 5174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Van Flandern, T. (1981). Do comets have satellites? Icarus 47, 480486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Van Flandern, T. (1992). Minor satellites and the Gaspra encounter. In Proceedings of Asteroids, Comets, Meteors, Lunar & Planetary Institute, Houston, 1991, pp. 609612.Google Scholar
Van Flandern, T. (1993). Dark Matter, Missing Planets and New Comets, pp. 215236, 178. North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA (2nd edn 1999).Google Scholar
Van Flandern, T. (1996). Possible new properties of gravity. Astrophys. Space Sci. 244, 249261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Van Flandern, T. (1997a). Comet Hale–Bopp update. Meta Res. Bull. 6, 2932.Google Scholar
Van Flandern, T. (1997b). The original Solar System. Meta Res. Bull. 6, 1729; see also <>.Google Scholar
Van Flandern, T. (1999a). Status of ‘the NEAR challenge’. Meta Res. Bull. 8, 3132. Also available at <>.Google Scholar
Van Flandern, T. (1999b). 1999 Leonid meteor storm – how the predictions fared. Meta Res. Bull. 8 5963.Google Scholar
Van Flandern, T. (2002). What really happened at the K/T extinction event. Meta Res. Bull. 11, 14.Google Scholar
Van Flandern, T. (2005a). Deep Impact: coming clues to the origin of the Solar System. Meta Res. Bull. 14, 1723; see also <>, posted 1st May 2005.Google Scholar
Van Flandern, T. (2005b). Deep Impact probe hits Comet Tempel 1. Meta Res. Bull. 14, 3338; see also Scholar
Van Flandern, T.C. & Harrington, R.S. (1976). A dynamical investigation of the conjecture that Mercury is an escaped satellite of Venus. Icarus 28, 435440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Weissman, P.R. (1989). The impact history of the Solar System: implications for the origin of atmospheres. In Origin and Evolution of Planetary and Satellite Atmospheres, eds Atreya, S.K., Pollack, J.B. & Matthews, M.S., pp. 247249. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ.Google Scholar
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

The challenge of the exploded planet hypothesis
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

The challenge of the exploded planet hypothesis
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

The challenge of the exploded planet hypothesis
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *