Jupiter turns out to be inhomogeneous; metallicity gives clues about origin
Credit: NASA

Jupiter's gaseous envelope doesn't have a uniformly distributed distribution according to an international team of astronomy. The inner part has more metals than the outer part, which adds up to 3% of Jupiter's mass. There is enough metallicity to conclude thatplanetesimals must have been involved in Jupiter's formation. It will be published in astronomy and astrophysics.

The beauty of the biggest planet in our solar system was captured by NASA when it arrived at Jupiter. Jupiter is home to the famous Great Red Spot, but it is also home to a lot of hurricanes. The visible layer does not show the planet's envelope. It's possible to see the pull above different locations on Jupiter. Calculating the composition of the interior is different to what we see on the surface.

The gaseous envelope is not as well-mixed as was thought by an international team of astronomy. The center of the planet has a higher contraction of metals than the other way around. The team used observational constraints to build a number of theoretical models.

The team studied the distribution of metals to learn more about Jupiter's formation. More of the metals are in the inner part than in the outer part. Between 11 and 30 Earth mass worth of metals is added up. The accretion of small pebbles or larger planetesimals is one of the ways Jupiter acquires metals. Baby planets start pushing out pebbles once they are big enough. It's impossible to get the richness of metals inside Jupiter before that. During Jupiter's formation, only pebbles can be excluded. Planetesimals are too large to be blocked.

The finding that the inner part of the envelope has more heavy elements than the outer part means that the abundance decreases out of sight, instead of being a homogeneity. "We used to think that Jupiter was like boiling water and that it was completely mixed." Our finding doesn't show the same thing.

More information: Y. Miguel et al, Jupiter's inhomogeneous envelope. arXiv:2203.01866v1 [astro-ph.EP], arxiv.org/abs/2203.01866 . Accepted for publication in Astronomy & Astrophysics Journal information: Astronomy & Astrophysics