News of the WeekPLANETARY ORIGINS

A Quickie Birth for Jupiters and Saturns

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Science  29 Nov 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5599, pp. 1698-1699
DOI: 10.1126/science.298.5599.1698b

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Summary

On page 1756, a group of astrophysicists presents computer simulations of the nascent solar system that suggest a possible mechanism for the formation of the gas giant planets: runaway fluctuations in the density of the protoplanetary disk. In their model, gas giants of about the right size, number, and orbit condense from a disk of gas to look like very young Jupiters. The trick was to simulate the process in fine detail so that the gas's own gravity could take over.