A massive collision may be the answer to Jupiter's unusual core

  • Monday 19, August 2019 08:09 AM
Sharjah 24 – Reuters: A cosmic collision between Jupiter and a protoplanet billions of years ago could explain the unexpected readings from NASA's Juno space probe.
According to a press release by Rice University, data from NASA's Juno space probe reported gravitational readings that suggest Jupiter's core is less dense and more extended than expected.

Rice astronomer Andrea Isella said the readings are puzzling, and that something happened that may have "stirred up the core".

After running thousands of computer simulations, the research team deduced that a fast-growing young Jupiter from some 4.5 billion years ago could have "perturbed" nearby embryo planets, resulting in a massive impact.

Isella said that because of Jupiter's, "strong gravitational focusing," head-on collisions were more common during the simulations. The dense high energy impactor would have been, "like a bullet", cutting the atmosphere and hitting the core of Jupiter directly.

Isella stated that before an impact, the core is extremely dense as it is surrounded by an atmosphere. A head-on collision would "spread things out" and "dilute the core".