Jupiter Is The Oldest Planet In Our Solar System, Study Finds

Posted: Jun 13 2017, 4:03pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Jupiter is the Oldest Planet in Our Solar System, Study Finds
Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

New evidence provide clues on the age of largest planet in the solar system

The largest planet in our solar system is also turned out to be the oldest.

New evidence suggests Jupiter is the oldest planet in the solar system. The gas giant was formed around 4.5 billion years ago, less than a million years after the beginning of the solar system.

It also grew surprisingly fast. Jupiter's solid core gained the mass of about 20 Earths within 1 million years after its formation. Within the next 3 to 4 years, it grew to about 50 Earth masses. Researchers have made their estimates by looking at tungsten and molybdenum isotopes on iron meteorites.

Meteorites are made up from two distinct nebular reservoirs. These meteorites exist in the same place but they were separated around 1 million years after the solar system formed and stayed apart until about 4 million years.

These populations of meteorites look almost similar but their isotopic composition is different. And it was only recently that researchers were able to see the differences in the two. They believe that meteorites remained separated during this period because of the formation of Jupiter.

“The most plausible mechanism for this efficient separation is the formation of Jupiter, opening a gap in the disc (a plane of gas and dust from stars) and preventing the exchange of material between the two reservoirs,” said Thomas Kruijer, lead author of the study.

“Jupiter is the oldest planet of the solar system, and its solid core formed well before the solar nebula gas dissipated, consistent with the core accretion model for giant planet formation.”

Researchers had previously attempted to determine the age of Jupiter and also suggested that the planet formed relatively early. However, its formation has never been dated until now. The isotopic analysis of meteorites confirms the earlier theories and supports the idea of firstborn Jupiter.

“We do not have any samples from Jupiter (in contrast to other bodies like the Earth, Mars, the moon and asteroids)," said Kruijer. "In our study, we use isotope signatures of meteorites (which are derived from asteroids) to infer Jupiter's age.”

Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system. By determining its age, researchers can better understand the evolution of solar system over time.

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