# Stability of solar system

My question is simple:

Is the Solar system stable?

Edit: Sorry, because i think my question is more about mathematics and classical mechanics of planets in billion years scale, than astronomy. But i think this is our fortuity that Earth didn't doomed in past billion years ago and it's possible that we will have less than 8 planet's before Sun will be ruin.

• My notion of stability is if we ignore the decreasing of Sun mass (because of nuclear reactions in the center of sun) and we assume only the mechanics of the planets by Newtone's law of gravitation whit present situations and speeds and masses, then billion years later we have 8 planets in Solar System (specially Earth!) or not Jul 4, 2015 at 1:09
• Normally, I would agree that the question is not sufficiently clear. However, since there is an answer that the user is happy with, somebody obviously understood what was asked. @2000 - if you wouldn't mind, could you please edit the question to add in the details you added in your comment. Jul 4, 2015 at 4:29
• Your question is not simple. On what timescale? Jul 4, 2015 at 6:57
• @WayfaringStranger I don't think this work specifically considers the stability of the solar system does it? Doesn't it just calculate a timescale for the big rip and then assume the solar system (which of course must exist in an entirely different configuration in 22 billion years in any case) is disrupted shortly before that. Jul 4, 2015 at 23:16

But even more simply than that, focusing just on the gravity (ignoring loss of stellar mass, etc.), the solar system is an N-body problem. We have 8 planets, a sun, and millions of asteroids, comets, and who knows how many individual particles gravitationally bound to our sun (plus ones that aren't and are just passing through the neighborhood, so to speak). When you have more than 2 bodies, the solutions to the N-body problem are unstable. What this means is that, say we describe the N-body problem with data $D$ (the "initial conditions", or a perfect description of the state of the system at some specific point in time). With a given complete data set the (Newtonian) gravitational evolution of the system is completely determined (but so difficult to do we can only approximate it). What instability means here is that if we have some other data set $D'$ that is only a little bit different from $D$, then the differences between the evolution from $D$ and $D'$ will become exponentially large over long enough time scales. So what may seem like minor differences now will result in radically different looking solar systems in the long run.
Since all of our observations can never give exact values, but only a range of values, there is necessarily a bit of uncertainty in what the exact gravitational state of our solar system is. We have very poor data on the exact asteroid and comet content of our solar system, and even planetary data has significant error margins. All of this means that there are lots of justifiable picks for the data $D$, each differing by a small amount from each. But due to the instability, eventually these data will produce radically different futures from each other. Currently we can only predict the solar system's evolution up to a few million years or so (the exact value stated can vary wildly depending on how you opt to define and compute the Lyapunov time). After that the evolutionary tracks become so disparate we can't really say we're predicting anything other than "it'll definitely do something".