Young Jupiter Collided With A Chaotic Newborn Planet

18 Août, 2019, 18:58 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Jupiter high-resolution

Jupiter may have started life as a dense rocky planet that only became more gas-like after a massive newborn planet smashed right into it 4.5 billion years ago, according to new research.

This study was published today (Aug. 14) in the journal Nature. "It suggests that something happened that stirred up the core, and that's where the giant impact comes into play".

As the ill-fated planetary embryo was absorbed into Jupiter, the pair's cores combined, their materials mingling with heavy elements in the newly-expanded planet's gaseous sheath.

They believe this collision with the planet - roughly the mass of ten Earths - explains its mysterious gassy inner-core.

Collision: Jupiter was in a enormous head-on collision with a "protoplanet" 4.5 billion years ago when it was still forming - and the gas giant completely absorbed the other world.

Further calculations showed that there was a 40 per cent chance that Jupiter would engulf a protoplanet within the first few million years of its life.

Jupiter, the solar system's largest planet, may have been smacked head-on by an embryonic planet 10 times Earth's mass not long after being formed, a monumental crash with apparent lasting effects on the Jovian core, scientists said on Thursday.

The team put together a video to indicate what the violent impact may have looked like. Along with the stunning pictures Juno has sent back, it's also used its instruments to gaze deep into Jupiter's heart.

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Shear refers to force and stress.

"It sounded very unlikely to me", said Andrea Isella, a co-author on the paper, in a statement, "like a one-in-a-trillion probability". Researchers have always been aware of the solar system's chaotic beginnings, and few planets-if any-escaped unscathed. The same scientists expect that Jupiter isn't unique in this regard, as they say that Saturn could have experienced similar events. "So, you kind of see a flash, in the sense that now you have this cloud of dust that emits light".

Researchers have been studying Jupiter for more than a century, but NASA's Juno spacecraft enabled astronomers to understand the gas giant in unprecedented detail.

A team of astronomers from Japan, China, Switzerland, and the U.S. used data from NASA's Juno space probe to investigate Jupiter's structure and composition, according to research published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

The research was supported by NASA (80NSSC18K0828), the National Science Foundation (AST-1715719) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (200021_169054).

While there's no way to run the clock backwards and be certain a major collision is what caused Jupiter's fuzzy core, the theory holds for now, and is an intriguing explanation for Jupiter's otherwise mysterious center.

CAPTION: Jupiter, as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2014.

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