Jupiter has long since been considered the oldest planet in the solar system. However, researchers could not determine the exact period of its formation. Now, a recently released study claims to have managed just that. The study team states that they were able to date Jupiter’s formation by analyzing its neighboring nebular reservoirs.
Jupiter, the Oldest Planet, Formed just Some 1 Million Years after the Appearance of the Solar System
This latest study was carried out by an international team of scientists from both the Institut fur Planetologie at Germany’s University of Munster and also the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
They managed to offer an estimated date as to Jupiter’s formation by analyzing nebular reservoirs surrounding it. The team of researchers analyzed meteorites from two such areas. Namely, they studied their molybdenum and tungsten isotopes. In doing so, the scientists determined that the two nebular reservoirs separated permanently very early on in the history of the Universe.
More precisely, they must have been split apart about 1 to 3 million years after the solar system started forming.
“The most plausible mechanism for this efficient separation is the formation of Jupiter, opening a gap in the disc and preventing the exchange of material between the two reservoirs,” said Thomas Kruijer.
He is a researcher part of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory involved in the study.
Kruijer then added that Jupiter “is the oldest planet in the solar system” as its solid core must have formed a good deal before the dissipation of the solar nebula gas. These study results are also consistent with previous giant planet formation models.
Such simulations had already predicted that Jupiter was born and evolved first among the planets in our solar system. Still, they were unable to put an exact date as to when this process began. Jupiter’s gravitational pull and impressive mass are believed to have influenced the formation of our own planetary system.
By dating Jupiter, the oldest and largest planet, astronomers are hoping to build a clearer, more accurate timeline for the solar system and its evolution process.
The new analysis results are available in a paper in the journal PNAS.
Image Source: JPL/NASA