Remnants of swallowed planetary embryos found in Jupiter’s ‘womb’ behind a veil of clouds

(ORDO NEWS) — Inside Jupiter is a large number of remnants of the embryos of the planets, which the gas giant absorbed during the expansion stage, when it turned into the largest planet in the solar system, which it is currently.

These conclusions were made based on the analysis of the chemical composition of the substance of the planet, located under the cloud layer of the outer part of the atmosphere, which we see when we observe Jupiter with a telescope.

“Jupiter was one of the very first planets to appear in the solar system,” said Yamila Miguel, lead author of the new study, from the University of Leiden, the Netherlands. However, we know relatively little about Jupiter’s origins, she added.

In a new study, Miguel and her colleagues were finally able to “look” under Jupiter’s cloud layer using data on the planet’s gravitational field collected by NASA’s Juno probe.

This data allowed the team to map the distribution of rocky material in the giant planet’s core, which, to the researchers’ surprise, showed a surprisingly high abundance of heavy elements. According to the authors, this testifies in favor of the hypothesis of the formation of Jupiter from relatively large embryonic planets.

There are two main hypotheses for the “assembly” of Jupiter. The first version suggests small stones measuring tens of centimeters in size as “building material”, while an alternative scenario points to an assembly of large planetary embryos known as planetesimals.

Since, according to the results of this study, an increased content of heavy elements was found in the core of Jupiter, this means that the assembly of the planet occurred from large fragments, planetesimals, Miguel and her group believe, since when assembling a planet from small stones, the process of assembling the core is completed immediately after the formation around it dense atmosphere, since small stones are not able to overcome the dense gas barrier.

Large planetesimals, due to more powerful gravity, passed through a layer of gas and further enriched the core of the planet with heavy elements,

These findings will help plan observations of exoplanets with the new James Webb space observatory and make a major contribution to the theory of planet formation, the authors say.


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