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NASA is Studying Jupiter's Extended Family

Aug 29, 2016 07:04 AM EDT
Hubble Observes An Evaporating Planet
Studying Jupiter-like exoplanets can provide significant knowledge about the formation of the Solar System.
(Photo : Alfred Vidal-Madjar/ESA/NASA/Getty Images)

To learn more about the universe, NASA is looking at Jupiter-like planets that orbit distant stars. Jupiter's extended family may provide vital information that can help scientists learn more about the formation and evolution of the Solar System.

Jupiter is considered as one of the oldest bodies in the Solar System; this means understanding the composition and formation of Jupiter and its extended family is significant in the scientific community. Despite being known as the "biggest and baddest" planet, Jupiter can provide significant knowledge about the formation of the Solar System.

There are many bodies similar to Jupiter, according to NASA some of them are hot, while some are cold. They are considered an extended family of Jupiter, the giant gas planet. In total, astronomers estimate that there could be a billion Jupiter-like worlds orbiting other stars. If analyzed, these Jupiter-like worlds can provide a better understanding of the Solar System and might also pave the way to find other signs of life outside Earth.

But looking at distant Jupiter-like bodies is not the only valuable way to study the universe. Experts say that searching within the Solar System and looking at Jupiter as if it is an exoplanet to learn more about the distant Jupiter-like planets can also apply.

NASA believes that this is the first time to do this since Juno is within Jupiter's orbit studying the giant gas planet. But NASA scientists know that it will be a long time before interstellar probes happen around Jupiter-like planets.

"The only way we're going to ever be able to understand what we see in those extrasolar planets is by actually understanding our system, our Jupiter itself," David Ciardi, an astronomer with NASA's Exoplanet Science Institute (NExSci) said in a press release.

Juno's data will help scientists understand Jupiter's influence on the formation of Earth and the other Jupiter-like planets may also help bring knowledge about other Earth's in the universe.

Studying exoplanets and other "Earths" is important, according to experts, because analyzing exoplanets correlates to the understanding of the Solar System.


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