The Milky Way’s Very Own Vacuum Cleaner
The largest planet in our Solar System, Jupiter has long fascinated astronomers and stargazers alike. Named after the king of the gods in Ancient Rome, Jupiter is often the third-brightest object in the night sky as seen from Earth, and it has a mass two and a half times greater than all of the other planets in our Solar System combined.
Aside from its impressive statistics and place in celestial mythology, Jupiter may also play a crucial role in the development of life on Earth. Some scientists theorize that Jupiter serves as a sort of planetary shield for the inner Solar System, protecting Earth from foreign bodies like comets and asteroids, thus enabling life to have thrived more fully, contributing to the Rare Earth Hypothesis.
But is Jupiter truly the ‘gentle giant’ some scientists think it to be?