Studying the formation and evolution of Jupiter and Saturn

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Alan Boss from Carnegie Institution Department of Terrestrial Magnetism has proposed a theoretical model showing the hints about the formation and evolution of the gas giant planets – Jupiter and Saturn – in our solar system.

The Astrophysical Journal published the finding.

Gas giant planets are thought to be formed in the presence of the disks of rotating gas around the stars in the early stages of their lives. Researchers found that the more massive stars have more numbers of giant planets.

One of the theories of the formation of the gas giant planets is that they were formed from slowly growing ice and rock cores along with the rapid increase of gas from the neighboring disk. Another theory showed that the gas giant planets were formed in a single step by clumping of dense gas form in spiral arms that increase with mass and density.

Boss developed three-dimensional models and showed that the ability of the gas giant planets to survive against the periodic outbursts of mass transfer from the gas disk onto the young star is more important in the evolution of the gas giant planets. One of the models similar to our Solar System was stable for more than 1,000 years while the other model containing similar planets as Jupiter and Saturn were stable for more than 3,800 years. Models showed the ability of the planets to be protected from the swallowing of the growing proto-sun or being tossed completely out of the planetary system by close encounters with each other.

“Gas giant planets, once formed, can be hard to destroy,” said Boss, “even during the energetic outbursts that young stars experience.”

The hypothetical models of Alan Boss for extrasolar gas giant planets was found in about 20% of sun-like stars giving the sign of right track in the study of evolution of the gas giants.

Source: Carnegie Institution for Science