A new discovery has added to the evidence that Jupiter is not only the largest planet in our solar system, but also the oldest. The study which was conducted Institut für Planetologie at the University of Münsterin Germany and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have concluded that the gas giant was formed around 50 million years before the Earth and just a million years after the sun was formed, which was approximately 4.6 billion years ago.
The team of scientists came to the conclusion after analyzing meteorite samples that had fallen to the surface of the earth. The samples were tested for the presence molybdenum and tungsten isotopes which was found in abundance. The data from molybdenum showed two distinct reservoirs of materials which had existed before but had become separated after the formation of the solar system.
The scientists have concluded that the two reservoirs must have been separated because of the formation of Jupiter between them. The newly formed planet then cleared an accretion disk surrounding the Sun which consisted of ice, gas and rocks. In a way the life on earth could be owed to Jupiter and its swallowing of the solar accretion disk, which in-turn created room for a habitable planet to be born.
The scientists have been able to determine that Jupiter grew to around 20 times the Earth’s mass within the initial million years and 50 times the earth’s mass after 4 million years. After the formation of Jupiter, more planets started to evolve around the accretion disk and the asteroids that were way beyond Jupiter were shoved into the asteroid belt by gas giants around 4.5 billion years later.
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