Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Throwing Earth Out of Orbit
Name: j miller
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1993 - 1999

I am a third grader and wondering how the earth could be thrown out of orbit and if it ever has had this happen?? What might the effects of this be?

To throw a planet out of its orbit would require some other large mass to go by. This other mass could be a very large comet or some small planet. There does not appear to be anything like this for millions of years. One theory says a large object hit the earth and it was responsibile for killing all of the dinosaurs. That would not have changed the orbit of the earth verymuch. The effects of that collision seem to have been clouds of dust that choked out the sunlight. Many scientists think this is what killed the dinosaurs. If theorbit of the earth changed we might have a very different climate, depending on whether we were closer or farther from the sun. There appears to be little chance for these things to occur. Good question.

Samuel P Bowen

Click here to return to the Astronomy Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory