New Model of Jupiter’s Core Ignites Planet Birth Debate

By | December 5, 2008

Just in time for Christmas: Jupiter has a bigger heart than anyone thought. Jupiter is co cool.

A new computer model suggests that Jupiter’s rock-ice core is more than twice as big as thought, supporting a theory that planetary cores form as smaller pieces of rock and ice collide and merge.

Underneath its swirling cloud layers, Jupiter may harbor a solid core roughly equal in mass to 16 Earths—more than twice as large as previously believed. That’s the conclusion of a controversial new computer simulation that represents the first radical rethinking of the planet’s core in nearly two decades.

… “We concluded that the planet formed by core accretion,” when colliding grains of dust, ice, and small planetary bodies meld to create planetary embryos and eventually fully formed planets.

… The study comes just about two years ahead of a recently approved NASA mission called Juno that may finally put an end to the decades-long dispute.  – natgeo

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