Jupiter may have eaten baby planets to accumulate metals: Scientists

Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system and has a mass that is 2.5 times that of all other planets combined. Most will remember that Jupiter is made mostly of helium and hydrogen. But unlike most other gas giants, the planet has a significant presence of metals. Scientists have finally been able to determine where this metal came from in Jupiter – other terrestrial planets that Jupiter consumes before they can fully form.

Using the Gravity Science instrument aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft, scientists set out to determine the composition of Jupiter. Juno, named after the Roman goddess of the same name who was married to the Roman god Jupiter, entered Jupiter’s orbit in 2016 and used radio waves to measure the gravitational field around the planet.

Scientists have used the tools to determine that the metal elements found in Jupiter, which has a total mass of 11 to 30 times the mass of Earth, were buried deep in the planet. The metals were closer to the center of Jupiter than in the outer layers.

“There are two mechanisms for a gas giant like Jupiter to acquire metals during its formation: through the accumulation of small stones or larger planetesimals,” said lead author Yamila Miguel from the study entitled “Inhomogeneous envelope of Jupiter, inhomogeneous envelope”, published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

“We know that once the baby planet is big enough, it starts pushing pebbles. The richness of metals inside Jupiter that we see now is impossible to achieve before. So we can exclude the scenario only with pebbles as solid particles during the formation of Jupiter. The planetesimals are too big to be blocked, so they must have played a role. “

Planetsimals are solid objects in space that are formed by cosmic dust grains. Once they grow to about a kilometer in size, these planetesimals are able to use their gravitational field to become larger – in protoplanets.

“Our results suggest that Jupiter has continued to accumulate heavy elements in large quantities as its hydrogen-helium shell grows, contrary to predictions based on the stone-isolated mass in its simplest incarnation, preferring instead to be based on planetary or -complex hybrid models. said Miguel.


Exit mobile version