The core of Jupiter is a bizarre mixture of solid rocks mixed with a diffuse bubble of hydrogen. And the story of how it turned out has long avoided explanations.
But now scientists believe they are onto something, suggesting that the gas giant absorbed another protoplanet during a collision in the head about 4.5 billion years ago when our Solar System was formed according to Science News.
The hypothesis can finally explain why the planet's core is so diffuse and fragmented – and also shed light on the earliest days of the solar system.
A team of astronomers from Japan, China, Switzerland and the United States used data from NASA's Juno space probe to investigate the structure and composition of Jupiter, according to research published Wednesday in the journal Nature .
They tested other possible explanations for how the inner core of Jupiter became so diffuse that gradual erosion caused by high-speed winds or the possibility that the core contained gas initially.
But the ancient influence, the researchers found, is not only a likely explanation, but may be the one that best matches observational data.
"Models of such a scenario result in an internal structure consistent with a diluted core, which lasts for billions of years," the team writes in the study.
If they are right, it means that our solar system, as a violent place, could crash colossal protoplanets into each other and even merge.
"We suggest that collisions were common in the young solar system and that a similar event may also have occurred for Saturn, which contributed to the structural differences between Jupiter and Saturn."
This article was originally published by Futurism . Read the original article.