Jupiter may be the Pac-Man of our solar system, doing anything in its path. Scientists have confirmed a long-standing belief that Jupiter formed by tearing apart smaller planetary bodies and spewing them into the gas around the planet’s core. That’s right. Jupiter is a planet eater.

The researchers used measurements of the planet’s gravity and atmosphere made by the Juno probe, which has performed more than 40 flyovers since 2016. It provides stunning photographs and otherwise impossible measurements as part of its mission.

Jupiter formed by eating smaller planets

The scientists compared Juno’s measurements with various simulations of how Jupiter was formed. The research focused on what makes up the core of the planet and the “envelope” of liquids and gases around that core. They found that there are more metals farther away from the core than there is. This indicates that Jupiter formed by separating planets, or minor planets.

peer-reviewed journal astronomy and astrophysics published the data in an article titled “Jupiter’s Inhomogeneous Envelope”. we saw the news time up,

Planets were key elements in the formation of our solar system. People who were not interested in making planets became comets or asteroids. Some of the moons, including the two moons orbiting Mars, may have started out as planets.

Scientists have been taking more detailed pictures of Jupiter over the years, including the planet’s famous giant red spot. In addition to Juno, the Hubble Space Telescope and land-based telescopes contribute to the study of the planet. This vehicle will orbit Jupiter till 2025 and then collide with the planet.

A Hubble Space Telescope photo of Jupiter and its moon Europa
NASA, ESA, STScI, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), MH Wong (University of California, Berkeley), and the OPAL team

The best part of the mission is that the probe is named after the Roman goddess Juno, the wife of Jupiter. And lovers of the Roman god inspired the names of many of the planet’s moons. So NASA sent Jupiter’s wife to take pictures of him and all his boyfriends and girlfriends. Brilliant.

Melissa is Nerdist’s science and technology staff writer. She also moderates “Science of” panels at conferences and co-hosts star warsology, a podcast about science and Star Wars. follow him Twitter @melissatruth,