A new study suggests that the planet Jupiter might have been hit a very long time ago by a still-growing planet, one about ten times the size of Earth.
Scientists believe the head-on crash occurred not long after Jupiter was formed.
Scientists say such a violent collision could explain conditions inside the center of the planet.
Astronomers believe the collision might have happened several million years after the formation of our sun. The solar system – made up of the sun and eight significant planets were formed about 4.6 billion years ago.
Jupiter is massive – more than two times the size of all other planets within the solar system combined. Jupiter is a gaseous planet, made up mostly of hydrogen and helium. Scientists believe it took from when gravity pulled in gas and dust left over from the sun’s formation.
Researchers have long sought to understand extra about Jupiter. In recent years, the U.S. space agency NASA has researched on the planet. NASA’s Juno spacecraft, launched in 2011, uses devices to measure the planet’s gravitational and magnetic fields.
Juno has made interesting findings of Jupiter. It showed that Jupiter likely has a “diluted” center, one mixed with each light and heavy materials. In the past, scientists theorized that the planet probably had a dense, solid core.
In the latest study, researchers examined data and other measurements collected by Juno. They used this data to build fashions to predict what the planet’s core is made of and how it is structured.
Their models supported the theory that a head-on collision took place between Jupiter and a still-developing planet. The team’s findings suggest the thing that hit Jupiter would have been about ten times the size of Earth. Such a crash, involving the two massive planets, may have broken apart Jupiter’s dense core and mixed gentle elements with heavy ones.
Under the theory, the still-creating planet also known as a protoplanet would have been swallowed up by Jupiter. Liu stated that if the collision had not happened, the protoplanet would have probably gone on to become a massive gas planet in our solar system.
The researchers also suggest that the same collision, involving the planet Saturn, could have occurred while the solar system was still young. This may explain the structural differences that exist between Jupiter and Saturn, they stated.