Scientists have found the remains of an infant planet that ate into Jupiter’s cloud – covered abdomen


Scientists have discovered that Jupiter’s interior is filled with the remains of asteroids swallowed by a gas giant as it expands into the giant we see today.The findings are based on clear observations of the chemical composition of the planet’s cloudy atmosphere.


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Although Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System, little is known about its inner workings. Telescopes have captured thousands of images of clouds orbiting in the upper atmosphere of the gas giant, but these Van Gogh-style storms interfere with our view below. “Jupiter was one of the first planets to form about 4.5 billion years before the formation of the Solar System,” Amira Miguel, an astronomer at Leiden University in the Netherlands, told LiveScience.

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In a new study, researchers were able to finally reach Jupiter’s hidden clouds using gravity data collected by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. The data team was allowed to map the rocks at the core of the giant planet, which displayed surprisingly high levels of heavy elements. These chemicals indicate that Jupiter swallowed the asteroid as fuel for its extensive growth.

Jupiter may be primarily a spinning gas ball today, but like other planets in the Solar System, it began its life with rocks. As the planet’s gravity pulls more and more rocks inward, the core of the rocks becomes very dense, which begins to attract large amounts of gas, mainly hydrogen and helium, from the Sun’s birth, forming its large gaseous atmosphere in the distance.

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There are two competing theories as to how Jupiter was able to collect its initial rocks. One theory is that Jupiter collected billions of tiny space rocks, which astronomers call Pebbles. New discoveries support the opposite theory that Jupiter’s core was formed by the absorption of many planetary fragments and large space rocks that stretched for miles, and if left unchecked, they could turn into seeds that could develop like Earth or Mars. A small rocky planet.

However, it is not yet clear which of these theories is correct. Since we could not directly observe how Jupiter formed, we had to put the pieces together with today’s information, which is not an easy task. The researchers created a computer model of Jupiter’s interior by combining large amounts of data collected by Juno and some information from its predecessor, Galileo.

These probes measured Jupiter’s gravitational field at various points in Jupiter’s orbit. Data show that Jupiter’s sedimentary rocks have a high concentration of solid elements, which turn into dense solids, so they have a stronger gravitational pull than the gaseous atmosphere. The data allowed the team to map small changes in the planet’s gravity, which helped them see where the rocks were on the planet.

Juno provides very accurate gravitational data that can help control the distribution of matter within Jupiter. Researchers’ samples show that Jupiter contains 11 to 30 elements heavier than Earth’s mass (3 to 9 percent of Jupiter’s mass), which is much higher than expected. Researchers believe that the only explanation for Jupiter’s high levels of heavier elements is that rocks and gases accumulate simultaneously.

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