Planet 10 times Earth's mass may have smacked Jupiter long ago

16/8/2019 10:56:00

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 violent collision, hypothesized by astronomers to explain data collected by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, may have occurred just several million years after the birth of the sun roughly 4.5 billion years ago following the dispersal of the primordial disk of dust and gas that gave rise to solar system.


“We believe that impacts, and in particular giant impacts, might have been rather common during the infancy of the solar system. For example, we believe that our moon formed after such an event. However, the impact that we postulate for Jupiter is a real monster,” astronomer Andrea Isella of Rice University in Houston said.


Under this scenario, the still-forming planet plunged into and was consumed by Jupiter.


Jupiter, a gas giant planet covered in thick red, brown, yellow and white clouds, boasts a diameter of about 89,000 miles (143,000 km). Interior models based on Juno data indicated Jupiter has a large “diluted” core representing about 5 to 15 percent of the planet’s mass comprised of rocky and icy material unexpectedly mixed with light elements like hydrogen and helium.


“Juno measures Jupiter’s gravity field to an extraordinary precision. Scientists use that information to infer Jupiter’s composition and interior structures,” said Shang-Fei Liu, associate professor of astronomy at Sun Yat-sen University in Zhuhai, China, and lead author of the research published in the journal Nature.


Computer models indicated that a head-on collision with a protoplanet - a planet in its formative stages - of roughly 10 Earth masses would have broken apart Jupiter’s dense core and mixed light and heavy elements, explaining Juno’s findings, the researchers said.


This protoplanet, with a composition similar to Jupiter’s primordial core, may have been slightly less massive than the solar system’s most distant ice giant planets Uranus and Neptune and would have become a full-fledged gas giant if it had not been swallowed by Jupiter, Liu said.


Jupiter already would have been fully formed at the time, with its strong gravitational pull perhaps precipitating the collision. Jupiter’s mass is about 320 times that of Earth.


Liu said tens of thousands of computer simulations indicated at least a 40% chance that Jupiter was hit by a protoplanet early in its history, with this impact scenario offering “by far the best explanation” for the nature of Jupiter’s core.






PUKmedia / Reuters


Commemoration of 3 Kurdish activists shot in Paris

Thursday, Kurds saluted the seventh anniversary of the assassination of 3 Kurdish women activists in France.


The crime took place on January 9, 2013, targeting 3 female Kurdi...

»  3 Kurdish girls die in a fire in Norway
»  Kurdish teenager plays for several European football clubs

Quarantined citizen in Sulaymaniyah: services provided are impossible for major countries

One of the citizens inside a quarantine center in the city of Sulaymaniyah said that what the medical and administrative staff provide is not possible for major countries to provide, and that the q...

»  Susan Rice: U.S. has ‘sold out the Kurds’ with Syria move
»  INTERVIEW: Kurdish leader Ilham Ahmed on security in North and East Syria

George Floyd: Huge protests against racism held across US

Huge peaceful rallies have taken place across the US against racism and police brutality on the 12th day of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.


Tens of thousands o...

»  WHO warns of exposure of Iraq to a second coronavirus wave
»  PUK an umbrella for coexistence and rapprochement between religions and components