NASA’s Juno spacecraft soared directly over Jupiter’s south pole when JunoCam has this image on Feb. 2, 2017, of a height of about 62,800 km (101,000 miles) above the cloud tops. This image is processed by a citizen scientist John Landino. This enhanced color version emphasizes the clear, high clouds and numerous meandering oval storms.
The solar system is more and more like a space oddity — Jupiter-like planets are more common around stars that also host giant-size versions of our planet and our solar system possesses Jupiter, but no “super-Earth”, a new study found.
Super-Earths are planets larger than the Earth, which can reach up to 10 times this planet of the masses. Previous research suggests that super-Earths are the most common species of the planet.
To shed light on how super-Earths could form, scientists looked to the stars that host super-Earths to see how many also had Jupiter-like worlds. With a particular focus on the worlds of a half to 20 times Jupiter’s mass, at least as far from their star as Earth is from the sun — with the exception of hot Jupiters, which are Jupiter-size planets that orbit closer to their star than Mercury is to the sun. They compared the prevalence of Jupiter-like worlds around systems without super-Earths. [The Most Intriguing Alien Planet Discoveries of 2017]
Many previous studies have suggested that Jupiter has a great influence on the evolution of the solar system. For example, if Jupiter orbited the newborn sun, it probably cut a hole in the protoplanetary disk of gas and dust that surrounded the infant star, the limit of the amount of solid substance that may have spiraled from the outer solar system into the inner solar system to form the planets. Jupiter’s strong gravity may also have disrupted the orbits of nascent planets, and possibly even by them in the interstellar space.
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“A large number of recent theoretical studies have suggested that Jupiter analogues could interfere with the super-Earth formation,” study lead author Marta Bryan, an astrophysicist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, told Space.com.
However, the researchers found that Jupiter-like planets are apparently not less frequently around stars hosting super-Earths than they are to stars without super-Earths, but more common.
“Jupiter analogues can be either the active help of super-Earth formation or can be signs of favourable conditions for the super-Earth formation,” Bryan said. “For example, the presence of a Jupiter analog may indicate the star’s protoplanetary disk had more solid material, and more solid material could have led to super-Earths.”
“Our solar system is not strange for the host of a super-Earth because it is the most common species of the planet, and now we discover that it is also strange to not have a super-Earth in spite of the presence of a Jupiter,” Bryan said. “This suggests our own Jupiter may be affected, terrestrial planet formation in an atypical fashion.”
A recent study suggested that our solar system is not host super-Earths because Jupiter migrated by about 6 astronomical units (AU) from the sun of 1.5 AU and then back, accompanied by Saturn, leading a large part of the solids fall down on the sun, Bryan said. (An au is the average distance between the Earth and the sun, about 93 million miles, or 150 million km.)
“Our findings suggest that this might be a kind of long-distance migration is not common,” Bryan said.
The scientists detailed their findings in a study submitted on June 22, The Astronomical Journal.
Original article on Space.com.