Home Science

A closer look at Jupiter's origin story – Phys.org

Forget Password?
Learn more
share this!
April 4, 2022
by NCCR PlanetS
One of the most important open questions in planetary formation theory is the story of Jupiter’s origin. Using sophisticated computer modeling, researchers of the University of Zurich (UZH) and the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS now shed new light on Jupiter’s formation history. Their results were published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1449240174198-2’); });

A curious enrichment of heavy elements
When the Galileo spacecraft released a probe that parachuted into Jupiter’s atmosphere in 1995, it showed among other things that heavy elements (elements heavier than helium) are enriched there. At the same time, recent structure models of Jupiter that are based on gravity field measurements by the Juno spacecraft suggest that Jupiter’s interior is not uniform but has a complex structure.
“Since we now know that the interior of Jupiter is not fully mixed, we would expect heavy elements to be in a giant gas planet’s deep interior as heavy elements are mostly accreted during the early stages of the planetary formation,” study co-author, Professor at the University of Zurich and member of the NCCR PlanetS, Ravit Helled begins to explain. “Only in later stages, when the growing planet is sufficiently massive, can it effectively attract large amounts of light element gases like hydrogen and helium. Finding a formation scenario of Jupiter which is consistent with the predicted interior structure as well as with the measured atmospheric enrichment is therefore challenging yet critical for our understanding of giant planets,” Helled says. Of the many theories that have so far been proposed, none could provide a satisfying answer.
A long migration
“Our idea was that Jupiter had collected these heavy elements in the late stages of its formation by migrating. In doing so, it would have moved through regions filled with so-called planetesimals—small planetary building blocks that are composed of heavy element materials—and accumulated them in its atmosphere,” study lead-author Sho Shibata, who is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Zurich and a member of the NCCR PlanetS, explains.
Yet, migration by itself is no guarantee for accreting the necessary material. “Because of complex dynamical interactions, the migrating planet does not necessarily accrete the planetesimals in its path. In many cases, the planet actually scatters them instead—not unlike a shepherding dog scattering sheep,” Shibata points out. The team therefore had to run countless simulations to determine if any migration pathways resulted in sufficient material accretion.
“What we found was that a sufficient number of planetesimals could be captured if Jupiter formed in the outer regions of the solar system—about four times further away from the Sun than where it is located now—and then migrated to its current position. In this scenario, it moved through a region where the conditions favored material accretion—an accretion sweet spot, as we call it,” Sho reports.
A new era in planetary science
Combining the constraints introduced by the Galileo probe and Juno data, the researchers have finally come up with a satisfying explanation. “This shows how complex giant gas planets are and how difficult it is to realistically reproduce their characteristics” Ravit Helled points out.
“It took us a long time in planetary science to get to a stage where we can finally explore these details with updated theoretical models and numerical simulations. This helps us close gaps in our understanding not only of Jupiter and our solar system, but also of the many observed giant planets orbiting far away stars,” Helled concludes.

Explore further

Image: The southern hemisphere of Jupiter

More information: Sho Shibata et al, Enrichment of Jupiter’s Atmosphere by Late Planetesimal Bombardment, The Astrophysical Journal Letters (2022). DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ac54b1

Journal information: Astrophysical Journal Letters

Provided by NCCR PlanetS

Citation: A closer look at Jupiter’s origin story (2022, April 4) retrieved 2 May 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-04-closer-jupiter-story.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further
Feedback to editors
Apr 29, 2022
Apr 29, 2022
Apr 29, 2022
Apr 28, 2022
Apr 27, 2022
12 hours ago
Apr 29, 2022
Apr 29, 2022
Apr 29, 2022
Apr 29, 2022
Apr 29, 2022
Apr 29, 2022
19 minutes ago
29 minutes ago
33 minutes ago
36 minutes ago
46 minutes ago
1 hour ago
More from Physics Forums | Science Articles, Homework Help, Discussion
Mar 19, 2020
Apr 19, 2021
Aug 28, 2018
Aug 14, 2019
May 08, 2017
Dec 03, 2019
Apr 29, 2022
Apr 28, 2022
Apr 28, 2022
Apr 28, 2022
Apr 28, 2022
Apr 27, 2022
Use this form if you have come across a typo, inaccuracy or would like to send an edit request for the content on this page. For general inquiries, please use our contact form. For general feedback, use the public comments section below (please adhere to guidelines).
Please select the most appropriate category to facilitate processing of your request
Thank you for taking time to provide your feedback to the editors.
Your feedback is important to us. However, we do not guarantee individual replies due to the high volume of messages.
Your email address is used only to let the recipient know who sent the email. Neither your address nor the recipient’s address will be used for any other purpose. The information you enter will appear in your e-mail message and is not retained by Phys.org in any form.

Get weekly and/or daily updates delivered to your inbox. You can unsubscribe at any time and we’ll never share your details to third parties.
More information Privacy policy
Medical research advances and health news
The latest engineering, electronics and technology advances
The most comprehensive sci-tech news coverage on the web
This site uses cookies to assist with navigation, analyse your use of our services, collect data for ads personalisation and provide content from third parties. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.


Previous articleHow to watch Ten Percent online: stream the Call My Agent remake from anywhere – all episodes out now – TechRadar
Next articleHow to get a smartwatch or fitness tracker for free – Android Central