Data from the probe "Juno" have produced a new theory about Jupiter. The gas giant could have been part of a planetary crash.
Did a planetary crash make Jupiter's core a flying ball?
Measurement data of Spacecraft "Juno" have some theories of astronomers for Jupiter faltered. The giant planet, so the usual assumption, has a solid core of rock and ice. Now, however, data from "Juno" show: The Jupiter's core is more of a kind of flying ball made of rock, ice and gas without clear distinction to the atmosphere of the gas giant. According to researchers, a possible reason for this: a cosmic catastrophe.
Maybe Jupiter is in one Mega-collision with another planet been involved. Thus, it suggests the simulation of an international research team led by Shang-Fei Liu from Sun Yat-sen University in Zhuhai, China. The disaster scenario has now been presented in the British journal "Nature".
"Juno" from the US space agency Nasa has been orbiting the largest planet in our solar system since July 2016. The measurement results for the core of the gas giant are among the most surprising ones that the Jupiter probe has ever sent to Earth.
Did Jupiter collide head-on with a "planetary embryo"?
"Instead of small and compact, as previously thought, the core of Jupiter is blurred," explains co-author Ravit Helled of the University of Zurich. "This means that the core is likely not only rock and ice, but also mixed with hydrogen and helium, and there is a gradual transition between the core and the shell as opposed to a sharp boundary."
Most astronomers assume that Jupiter began as a solid rock or ice planet and gradually gathered its dense atmosphere from the primitive cloud that created the entire solar system. The original rock or ice core should therefore still be preserved. However, the "Juno" measurements could not find this core.
The team around Liu suspects one Clash with a protoplanet in the early days of our solar system and simulated numerous collision scenarios to produce the measured internal structure of Jupiter. "The only scenario that culminates in a core-density profile, as 'Juno' measures it today, is a head-on collision with a planetary embryo that was about ten times more massive than Earth," Liu said.
Collision 4.5 billion years ago could have measurable consequences to this day
"With a high density and a lot of energy, this impactor would travel like a bullet through the atmosphere and hit the core head-on," adds co-author Andrea Isella of Rice University, Houston, Texas. "Before impact, you have a very dense core that is surrounded by the atmosphere. The head-on collision distributes things and dilutes the core. "
Even if the cosmic Collision 4.5 billion years ago may have had effects to this day, says Isella. "Under the terms proposed in the release, it can still take many, many billions of years for the heavy material to regroup into a dense core."
(Dpa / ba)
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