All things considered, Jupiter seems like a pretty scary place. More than 300 times bigger than Earth (and twice the size of all the rest of our solar system’s planets combined), the King of Planets has double the strength of our gravity and an exceptionally dense, dry atmosphere. And you know that Big Red Dot on its surface? Well, apparently that’s a storm that’s been raging for centuries. Truly terrifying stuff.
But some scientists now reckon that Jupiter could be even more beastly than we previously thought. An article in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics says that the planet may have become its ginormous, monstrous self by eating other planets.
The paper suggests that Jupiter has the remains of other planets hidden inside it. While the theory that Jupiter was born out of other planets has been around for a while, a clearer picture was revealed after the planet’s infamous gases temporarily parted and Nasa’s Juno space probe was able to get some data about its core.
That data was able to give scientists a better idea of what Jupiter looks like under its massive gas clouds. Apparently the chemical make-up of the planet’s core indicates that Jupiter is likely swallowed up lots of small planets (called planetesimals) and space rocks to boost its own growth.
Which makes you pretty glad that Earth is a solid 742 million kilometers from Jupiter, eh? If you’re interested in learning more about the scientists’ findings, you can read the full article here.
Want to see the planet-muncher yourself? Here’s how you can see Jupiter in the night sky this week.
Plus: here’s our guide to the most spectacular astronomical events of 2022.