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Young Jupiter likely gobbled up millions of planetoids – The Weather Network

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New research suggests that Jupiter contains the remnants of numerous planetoids that it consumed as it grew in the early solar system.

Jupiter is the largest and most massive planet in our solar system, tipping the cosmic scales at over 317 times the mass of Earth. Most of its bulk is made up of just two elements — hydrogen and helium. However, a small percentage of the planet is composed of heavier elements, all of which astronomers group together into the category of metals.

This artist impression shows dark scars in Jupiter’s clouds due to shards of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacting the planet in 1994. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser/NASA/ESA


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This same distinction is used in stellar astronomy, where a star is described as having a specific metallicity, which refers to the amount of stuff in the star that is not hydrogen or helium.

New research has used data from NASA’s Juno probe to investigate Jupiter’s metallicity.

As Juno orbits around Jupiter, it makes periodic close passes over the planet’s cloud-tops. During each of these passes, the spacecraft keeps careful record of the gravitational pull it experiences due to the material underneath it. This gives researchers an idea of exactly how much stuff is under Jupiter’s clouds in different regions of the planet.

Using this data, an international team led by Yamila Miguel, from the Dutch national expertise institute for scientific space research (SRON) and the Leiden Observatory, constructed computer models of Jupiter’s interior to account for what Juno recorded.

Their study revealed some unexpected details about the massive gas giant.

Jupiter Juno NASA-JPL-Caltech-SwRI-MSSS-TanyaOleksuikThis view of Jupiter’s cloud tops was taken by NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it made its 31st close-pass around the planet. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS, processed by citizen scientist Tanya Oleksuik (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)


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Firstly, the distribution of the metals within Jupiter is not uniform. Instead, they are more concentrated the deeper into the planet you go. While heavier elements do tend to sink towards a planet’s core, this discovery is unusual because it was assumed that the motions of Jupiter’s atmosphere would cause the metals to be more evenly distributed.

“Earlier we thought that Jupiter has convection, like boiling water, making it completely mixed,” Miguel said in a SRON press release. “But our finding shows differently.”

Secondly, the total amount of Jupiter’s metal content is somewhere between 3 to 9 per cent of the entire planet, or roughly equivalent to 11-30 times the mass of Earth. That’s a lot of heavy elements for the planet to consume in a relatively short time.

“There are two mechanisms for a gas giant like Jupiter to acquire metals during its formation: through the accretion of small pebbles or larger planetesimals,” Migel said.

Planetesimals (aka planetoids) are solid chunks of rock and/or ice that formed in the early solar system. This includes asteroids and comets larger than 1 kilometre across, but smaller than 100 km. Anything larger would be an ’embryonic planet’ or ‘protoplanet’, while objects smaller than 1 km would be considered ‘pebbles’.

Watch below: NASA Juno spots exotic SHALLOW LIGHTING on Jupiter

According to Migel, once a ‘baby’ planet grows massive enough, its gravity tends to snag the smaller pebbles and fling them out of the way. Thus, by the time Jupiter accumulated enough mass to develop its hydrogen-helium atmosphere, its own gravity would have blocked it from consuming these tiny objects.

However, as the researchers note in the paper, their results
indicate that Jupiter continued to accumulate heavy elements, in large amounts, while its hydrogen-helium envelope was still growing. So, a significant amount of the planet’s metals had to come from larger objects.

“Planetesimals are too big to be blocked, so they must have played a role,” Migel said.

So, how many planetesimals has Jupiter eaten?

If we use some typical asteroid masses from NASA, to account for up to 30 Earth-masses worth of metals, Jupiter would have had to gobble up somewhere between a few hundred million larger ones to billions of smaller ones!

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Remains of small armor-plated dinosaur found in Argentina – Mint Lounge

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Buenos Aires, Reuters: Paleontologists on Thursday heralded the discovery of a previously unknown small armored dinosaur in southern Argentina, a creature that likely walked upright on its back legs roaming a then-steamy landscape about 100 million years ago.

The Cretaceous Period dinosaur, named Jakapil kaniukura, would have been well-protected with rows of bony disk-shaped armor along its neck and back and down to its tail, they said. It measured about 5 feet (1.5 meters) long and weighed only 9 to 15 pounds (4-7 kg), similar to an average house cat.

Also read: New dinosaur found in Mexico was ‘very communicative’

Its fossilized remains were dug up over the past decade near a dam in Patagonia in Rio Negro province’s La Buitrera paleontological zone. The scientists described Jakapil in a study published in the journal Scientific Reports (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-15535-6.pdf.)

The scientists said Jakapil marks a first-of-its-kind discovery of an armored dinosaur from the Cretaceous in South America. It is part of the thyreophoran dinosaur group that includes the likes of Stegosaurus, known for its bony back plates and spiky tail, and tank-like Ankylosaurus, covered in armor and wielding a club-like tail.

Also read: Fish once labeled a living fossil surprises scientists again

Lead paleontologist Sebastian Apesteguia and his colleagues found a partial skeleton of Jakapil along with 15 tooth fragments featuring a leaf-like shape, similar to iguana teeth.

Jakapil resembles a primitive form of thyreophoran that lived much earlier, making it a surprise that it dated from the Cretaceous. Apesteguia said never before has such a thyreophoran been dug up anywhere in the southern hemisphere. 

(Reporting by Miguel Lo Bianco; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Will Dunham for Reuters)

Also read: ‘Death shadow’ dinosaur is largest megaraptor ever unearthed

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Perseid meteor shower of 2022 thrills stargazers despite bright moon (photos) – Space.com

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The Perseid meteor shower of the 2022 reached its peak this weekend and while the bright full moon may have washed out the best of the “shooting stars” display this year, that doesn’t mean skywatchers were left completely in the dark.

Stargazers around the world captured some dazzling views of the Perseid meteor shower as it peaked overnight Friday and Saturday (Aug. 12-13) and they shared the photos to prove it. Some observers took to Twitter to share their meteor views while other astrophotographers snapped truly stunning photos for Getty Images. 

“Perseid fireball I saw last night from Oxfordshire,”  skywatcher Mary McIntyre of Oxfordhire in the United Kingdom wrote (opens in new tab) on Twitter, adding that she captured the Perseid photos with a meteor camera. “The ionization trail was awesome.”

Related: Perseid meteor shower generates early “shooting stars” (video)

The Perseid meteor shower is typically one of the best meteor displays of the year, but its peak in 2022 came just one day after the Sturgeon supermoon (August’s full moon) on Aug. 11. Since dark skies are vital for meteor watching, even bright moonlight can dim a stargazers prospects. 

Photographer Wu Zhengjie for the photo service VCG and Getty Images still managed to capture stunning views of the Perseids from the Eboliang Yardang landform in Haixi Mongolian and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province of China. The images show brilliant Perseid meteors over a striking landscape. 

Another photographer, Veysel Altun of the Anadalou Agency and Getty Images, managed to capture a Perseid meteor streak over a campsite in Samsun, Turkey. 

A Perseid meteor streaks across the night sky over Atakum district of Samsun, Turkey on Aug. 13, 2022.  (Image credit: Veysel Altun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Photographer Ercin Ertuk, also of the Anadalou Agency and Getty Images, snapped a photo of a Perseid as it streaked across the sky over trees in Ankara, Turkey.

A view of the Perseid meteor shower over Ankara, Turkey on August 13, 2022. (Image credit: Ercin Erturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Still more stargazers managed to catch views of the Perseids with either their own cameras or meteor cameras that constantly watch the sky to record fireballs. Here’s a look at some of our favorites spotted on Twitter.

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The Perseid meteor shower occurs each year in mid-August when the Earth passes through the dusty trail of the Comet Swift-Tuttle. When those comet bits slam into Earth’s atmosphere, they can spawn bright trails as the streak across the sky. They appear to radiate out from the constellation Perseus, hence their name. 

The next major meteor shower of 2022 will be the Orionid meteor shower in October. That shower will peak on Oct. 20 and 21, but its activity period runs from Sept. 26 to Nov. 22. It is caused by the remnants of Halley’s Comet as the Earth passes through that trail. 

Check out our guide for the best meteor showers of the year to prepare for your next stargazing experience.

Editor’s note: If you snap an amazing photo of a Perseid meteor or any other night-sky sight and you’d like to share it with Space.com for a story or image gallery, send images, comments and location information to spacephotos@space.com.

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com (opens in new tab) or follow him @tariqjmalik (opens in new tab). Follow us @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab)Facebook (opens in new tab) and Instagram (opens in new tab).

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B.C. poet illuminates pages of popular scientific magazine with verses about the nature of light – CBC.ca

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On clear summer nights, poet Donna Kane sleeps on the front deck of her farmhouse in Rolla, B.C., in an old-fashioned bed under a blue quilt printed with crescent moons.

The writer draws inspiration from looking at the sky in this northern part of the province, more than 750 kilometres distant from Vancouver.

“I feel connected. I feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself, and I feel comforted by that. You’re looking at the origins of light when you’re lying there, looking up at the stars,” Kane said.

Kane’s musings about star light in the night sky inspired her to write a poem that blends scientific principles and the human experience of light’s reflection — a poem that now appears in a respected U.S. science magazine.

The poem, On Visible Light, was published in the July edition of Scientific American magazine, alongside more traditional scholarly research on the thermodynamic limit, momentum computing and interstellar space.

For Kane, the inclusion of her poem is proof that literature and science are more closely connected than many people believe.

“I’ve always thought science and art are very, very similar, trying to discover the mysteries of the world and the universe. They both have that urge,” Kane told CBC News. 

“Poetry explores. Ideas can emerge from really good poems that maybe scientists hadn’t really thought of in that same way.” 

‘Science and art are very, very similar because both disciplines are trying to explore the mysteries of the world and the universe,’ poet Donna Kane said. (Submitted/Donna Kane)

Kane’s poem is a villanelle, a structured type of poem with refrains and a strict rhyming pattern, a form that dates back hundreds of years. She weaves together science and imagery with lines like “Just a slice of electromagnetic/ wavelength and sight is ours, a blindness gone/ at the end of travelling through our nights.”

Its appearance in the pages of Scientific American, which has more than eight million online readers worldwide each month, has brought Kane stratospheric exposure.

“I’m pretty sure I’m never going to get a bigger audience than that,” said Kane. “Usually the reach of poetry is very small.”

The cover of 'Scientific American', whose lead story is 'Voyagers' Final Frontier'. It features an image of a satellite.
Kane’s poem features in the July issue of Scientific American. The magazine has an online readership of around eight million each month. (Submitted/Scientific American)

The editor of Scientific American’s poetry column, Dava Sobel, told CBC News that Kane’s poem is “gorgeous.” 

“It’s emotionally evocative and yet scientifically informative. And it adheres to a very strict poetic form. So it’s a difficult thing to achieve. But she’s really done it,” said Sobel, a former science writer for the New York Times who was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Sobel, who had astronaut Neil Armstrong write the forward to one of her books and also has an asteroid named after her, believes that poetry can illuminate science. 

“Creativity flows smoothly between those two,” she said.

Dava Sobel poses for the camera in front of a sundial. She has white hair, cut short, and is wearing red-rimmed glasses.
Dava Sobel, poetry editor of Scientific American, has previously published poetry written by Nobel Prize winners in chemistry and physics. (Submitted/Glen Allsop)

Sobel said Scientific American published poetry in its very first issue in 1845 but only featured rarely since, until she launched a monthly science poetry column in the magazine in 2020.

Since then, in addition to Kane’s villanelle, she’s included poems written by Nobel Prize winners in chemistry and physics.

“Poetry should not be off limits to anybody, nor should science,” she said.

Even though it’s an imaginative work, Kane’s poem still had to meet the bar for accuracy and was rigorously fact checked by Scientific American before it was published.

“They’re pretty serious that … what you’ve written is accurate. You can do playful things, but the poem has to stand up to the actual science,” said Kane.

B.C. poet Donna Kane's face is shown reflected in the Pioneer 10 space craft during a visit to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.
Donna Kane’s face is reflected in a prototype of the Pioneer 10 space craft during a visit to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. The B.C. poet is drawn to writing about science and space. (Submitted/Donna Kane)

The poet said she’s always loved science and has written other works about space.

Her 2020 book, Orrery: Poems, featured a number of pieces about Pioneer 10, a space probe launched to study Jupiter’s moons. It was a finalist for a Governor General’s Award for English-language poetry. 

One of her space-themed poems will be included in a forthcoming anthology published by Cambridge University Press.

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