In a recent discovery, researchers have found out that Jupiter is the oldest planet in the universe, besides being the biggest.
Researcher, Thomas S. Kruijer, says “this is the first time that we can say something about Jupiter based on measurements done in the lab.” Similar work was done on computer models till now.
In an attempt to learn about the planet, Kruijer and his colleagues measured meteorite samples. They found two different categories of meteorites. They seemed to have evolved after a million years since the solar system was born, and blocked the two groups of meteorites from moving back and forth. This obstruction lasted until the solar system was at least 4 million years old.
Researchers believe that Jupiter was that obstacle, as it is was formed during that period.
“The team showed through isotope analyses of meteorites that Jupiter’s solid core formed within only about 1 million years after the start of the solar system history, making it the oldest planet,” said a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory press release. Kruijer said the “genetic heritage and formation times of meteorites” were the clues.
Researchers added that Jupiter grew to 20 times the mass of Earth in its first million years. It also moved closer to the sun and let all those meteorites to get back together.
According to Universe Today, if all of the other planets in the solar system are put together, Jupiter would still have 2.5 times as much mass.
“Knowing the age of Jupiter… is key for understanding how the Solar System evolved toward its present-day architecture,” the researchers said.
NASA says that the solar system as a whole is around 4.6 billion years old. Jupiter and Saturn are believed to have been formed first, followed by Uranus and Neptune. Other planets like Earth, Mercury, Venus and Mars were formed later.