An international team of researchers from France and the United States has created a new computer simulation of how the solar system was formed, and this time they have focused on Jupiter and how its moons originated. According to the results, Saturn could have played an important role in the formation of Jupiter’s moons.
Jupiter which is the largest planet in our solar system, its mass is 317 times that of Earth and has a total of 69 moons. The scientific community agrees that most of the smaller ones were formed elsewhere in the Solar System, while the larger ones, such as Ganymede, Io, Callisto, and Europa would have originated near their own planet.
However, there would be a problem with this theory
How could these moons originate from nearby, if Jupiter, when it formed, has left an empty orbit in its path around the Sun by clearing its orbit of everything it encountered in its path?
The explanation according to this new computer simulation is that the four before-mentioned moons were probably formed from the material accumulated on the outer edge of Jupiter’s orbit and that it happened thanks to the fact that Saturn helped with the formation of Jupiter’s moons.
Saturn lend a helping hand to its neighbor
By moving close enough to Jupiter, Saturn’s gravitational force influenced the orbit of that rock and dust materials cleared by Jupiter in its path, causing a part of it to reenter on the Jupiter’s orbit around the Sun.
Then, the material merged and formed the four moons that we know today as Ganymede, Io, Callisto, and Europa, also known as the Galilean Moons.
The researchers suggest that the findings could be extrapolated and have a significant impact on the study of other solar systems, which may have gone through a similar process.
Thomas Ronnet, an astrophysicist at the French University of Aix-Marseille, told that this discovery points to the fact that giant moons systems are more likely to form around giant planets in multi-planetary systems only, following the example of Saturn which helped the formation of Jupiter’s moons, among which there might be 2 habitable moons.