Tag Archives: Jupiter

Planet 10 times Earth's mass may have smacked Jupiter long ago

Planet 10 times Earth's mass may have smacked Jupiter long agoJupiter, the solar system’s largest planet, may have been smacked head-on by an embryonic planet 10 times Earth’s mass not long after being formed, a monumental crash with apparent lasting effects on the Jovian core, scientists said on Thursday. The violent collision, hypothesized by astronomers to explain data collected by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, may have occurred just several million years after the birth of the sun roughly 4.5 billion years ago following the dispersal of the primordial disk of dust and gas that gave rise to solar system. “We believe that impacts, and in particular giant impacts, might have been rather common during the infancy of the solar system.



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Birth of a planet captured for first time as gas giant bigger than Jupiter swirls into existence

Birth of a planet captured for first time as gas giant bigger than Jupiter swirls into existenceEven by astronomical standards it is a discovery that is out of this world. Scientists have for the first time witnessed the birth of a planet, a huge gas giant many times the size of Jupiter, swirling into existence 370 light years from Earth.  The theory of how gas planets form from a vortex of hydrogen and helium molecules captivated by their own gravity, is now widely accepted by scientists. But it has never been seen before, until now. Today scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg and the SPHERE instrument consortium at the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile, released a spectacular image of the birth  The planet, currently known as PDS 70b, is shown orbiting within a huge spinning ‘protoplanetary disc’ of gas and dust, which proves it is continuing to accumulate matter, and so is not yet fully formed.  The newborn sits within a 5.4 million year old solar system, orbiting a star called PDS 70 at a distance of 1.8 billion miles.  The planet stands out clearly in the image, visible as a bright point to the right of the blackened centre. The dark region at the centre of the image is due to a coronagraph, a mask which blocks the blinding light of the central star and allows astronomers to detect the faint light from the planet. “For our study, we selected PDS 70, a star that was already suspected of having a young planet circling around it,” says Miriam Keppler, doctoral student at MPIA. “These discs around young stars are the birthplaces of planets, but so far only a handful of observations have detected hints of baby planets in them. Space exploration | Recent exciting discoveries “The problem is that until now, most of these planet candidates could just have been features in the disc." This glimpse of the dust-shrouded birth of a planet was only possible because of ESO's SPHERE instrument, which studies exoplanets and discs around nearby stars using a technique known as high-contrast imaging.  Using the instrument, astronomers were able measure the brightness of the planet at different wavelengths, and find out its composition.  It is located roughly three billion kilometres from the central star, roughly equivalent to the distance between Uranus and the Sun. The planet takes about 120 years to orbit its host star.  Spectral analysis shows PDS 70 b is a giant gas planet, with a mass a few times that of Jupiter and a surface temperature of around 1,000C, making it much hotter than any planet in our own solar system.  Signs of life in our Solar System Thomas Henning, director at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and leader of the teams, summarises the scientific adventure: "After more than a decade of enormous efforts to build this high-tech machine, now SPHERE enables us to reap the harvest with the discovery of baby planets.” To date, astronomers have discovered around 3,800 exoplanets outside of the solar system but have never seen one being born. “The results give us a new window onto the complex and poorly-understood early stages of planetary evolution," said Dr André Müller, leader of the second team to investigate the young planet.  “We needed to observe a planet in a young star's disc to really understand the processes behind planet formation." 



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'Alien' asteroid discovered orbiting the wrong way near Jupiter 

'Alien' asteroid discovered orbiting the wrong way near Jupiter An "alien" asteroid from another star system has been discovered sharing Jupiter's orbit.  Through a telescope the asteroid look like every other in the solar system save for one crucial difference – it is travelling in the wrong direction. It is the first time an interstellar space rock has been found to be permanently residing in the solar system.  Earlier this year, a tumbling cigar-shaped object named 'Oumuamua', hit the headlines after flying into earth's galactic backyard, but it merely passed through and out again. But the new 1.8 mile wide rock – code-named 2015 BZ509 – appears to be a long-term resident, according to a study in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The first clue that it was not a native of the solar system came from its "retrograde" orbit of the sun, the opposite the direction of travel taken by all the planets and almost every other object in our system. Scientists have concluded it survived by orbiting the sun exactly in step with Jupiter, but in the opposite direction Credit: NASA / ESA Dr Fathi Namouni, from the Cote d'Azur Observatory in France, lead author of the study, said: "How the asteroid came to move in this way while sharing Jupiter's orbit has until now been a mystery. "If 2015 BZ509 were a native of our system, it should have had the same original direction as all of the other planets and asteroids, inherited from the cloud of gas and dust that formed them." Scientists have concluded it survived by orbiting the sun exactly in step with Jupiter, but in the opposite direction. Co-author Dr Helena Morais, from the Estadual Paulista University in Brazil, said: "The close proximity of the stars, aided by the gravitational forces of the planets, help these systems attract, remove, and capture asteroids from one another." Computer simulations suggest that the asteroid made the jump to our solar system 4.5 billion years ago when the sun was part of a tightly packed star cluster. “That was completely unexpected…it means it is an alien to the solar system,” said Dr Namouni. Since asteroids and comets carry organic chemicals and water, the discovery could shed light on the origins of life on Earth, the scientists believe.



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SpaceX rocket now on a trajectory toward asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter

SpaceX rocket now on a trajectory toward asteroid belt between Mars and JupiterAt mission control, 6,000 workers cheered the launch Tuesday.



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Get Ready, Science Nerds: Incredible Jupiter Photos Are Coming

Get Ready, Science Nerds: Incredible Jupiter Photos Are ComingNASA's Juno spacecraft will fly right over the planet's famous red spot



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NASA's Juno probe forces 'rethink' on Jupiter

NASA's Juno probe forces 'rethink' on JupiterAn unmanned NASA spaceship circling Jupiter has spotted massive cyclones at the gas giant’s poles, revealing stunning new details about our solar system’s largest planet, researchers said Thursday. A NASA statement described the planet as “a complex, gigantic, turbulent world” that is far different than scientists previously thought. Two papers in the journal Science and 44 papers in Geophysical Research Letters describe a trove of discoveries made since Juno began orbiting Jupiter last year.



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