Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Nice Model

  • Alessandro Morbidelli
  • Sean N. Raymond
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_1058-6


The so-called “Nice model” describes dynamical evolution of the outer Solar System since the time when the gas was removed from the protoplanetary disk. In this model, the giant planets underwent a dynamical instability which played a major role in shaping the present-day Solar System. This instability could have happened several 100 million years after the planets formed. The Nice model can explain several observations in the Solar System, including the orbits of the giant planets, the existence and the orbital structure of several small body populations (e.g., Jupiter’s Trojans), and the late heavy bombardment.


There are two versions of the Nice model.

The first one (Nice I) was presented in 2005 in a trilogy of papers published on the Journal Nature. In that version of the model, the assumption was made that the giant planets formed in a more compact configuration than their current one, with a ratio between the orbital periods of Saturn and Jupiter smaller than...


Solar System Giant Planet Terrestrial Planet Orbital Structure Protoplanetary Disk 
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References and Further Reading

  1. Batygin K, Brown ME (2010) Early dynamical evolution of the solar system: pinning down the initial conditions of the nice model. Astrophys J 716:1323–1331ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Batygin K, Brown ME, Fraser WC (2011) Retention of a primordial cold classical Kuiper belt in an instability-driven model of solar system formation. Astrophys J 738:13ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Batygin K, Brown ME, Betts H (2012) Instability-driven dynamical evolution model of a primordially five-planet outer solar system. Astrophys J 744:L3ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bottke WF, Vokrouhlicky D, Minton D, Nesvorny D, Morbidelli A, Brasser R, Simonson B, Levison HF (2012) An archaean heavy bombardment from a destabilized extension of the asteroid belt. Nature 485:78–81ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brasser R, Morbidelli A (2013) Oort cloud and scattered disc formation during a late dynamical instability in the solar system. Icarus 225:40–49ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brasser R, Morbidelli A, Gomes R, Tsiganis K, Levison HF (2009) Constructing the secular architecture of the solar system II: the terrestrial planets. Astron Astrophys 507:1053–1065ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gomes R et al (2005) Origin of the cataclysmic Late Heavy Bombardment period of the terrestrial planets. Nature 435:459–461ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Levison HF, Morbidelli A, Van Laerhoven C, Gomes R, Tsiganis K (2008) Origin of the structure of the Kuiper belt during a dynamical instability in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. Icarus 196:258–273ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Levison HF, Morbidelli A, Tsiganis K, Nesvorny D, Gomes R (2011) Late orbital instabilities in the outer planets induced by interaction with a self-gravitating planetesimal disk. Astron J 142:152ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Morbidelli A et al (2005) Chaotic capture of Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids in the early Solar System. Nature 435:466–469ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Morbidelli A, Tsiganis K, Crida A, Levison HF, Gomes R (2007) Dynamics of the giant planets of the solar system in the gaseous protoplanetary disk and their relationship to the current orbital architecture. Astron J 134:1790–1798ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Morbidelli A, Brasser R, Gomes R, Levison HF, Tsiganis K (2010) Evidence from the asteroid belt for a violent past evolution of Jupiter’s orbit. Astron J 140:1391–1401ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Nesvorny D (2011) Young solar system’s fifth giant planet? Astrophys J 742:L22ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Nesvorny D, Morbidelli A (2012) Statistical study of the early solar system’s instability with four, five, and six giant planets. Astron J 144:117ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Nesvorny D, Vokrouhlicky D, Morbidelli A (2007) Capture of irregular satellites during planetary encounters. Astron J 133:1962–1976ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Nesvorny D, Vokrouhlicky D, Morbidelli A (2013) Capture of Trojans by Jumping Jupiter. Astrophys J 768:45ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Parker AH, Kavelaars JJ (2010) Destruction of binary minor planets during Neptune scattering. Astrophys J 722:L204–L208ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Tsiganis K et al (2005) Origin of the orbital architecture of the giant planets of the Solar System. Nature 435:462–465ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Observatoire de la Cote d’AzurNiceFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de BordeaixCNRS, Universite de BordeauxFloiracFrance