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Jupiter collided head-on with a “baby” planet 4.5 billion years ago, says study

08/16/2019 4:14 pm ET
Jupiter collided head-on with a “baby” planet 4.5 billion years ago, says study

Photo: Jupiter/NASA

It’s likely Jupiter had a colossal collision with a still-forming planet 4.5 billion years ago, say Rice University and Sun Yat-sen University astronomers.

It’s the only way to explain the puzzling gravitational readings from NASA’s Juno spacecraft.

Jupiter, which likely began per theorists as a dense, rocky, or icy planet from the sun’s birth gas and dust, was far less dense than expected.

The only scenario that makes sense, says China’s Shang-Fei Liu, “is a head-on impact with a planetary embryo about 10 times more massive than Earth.”

There’s a 40% chance that Jupiter could indeed swallow a planetary embryo within its first few million years, with Jupiter’s strong gravitation force prompting head-on collisions.

More at Science Daily

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