Gas Giant Interior Composition

Discussion in 'Astronomy, Exobiology, & Cosmology' started by Epictetus, Mar 1, 2012.

  1. Epictetus here & now Registered Senior Member

    Greetings. Does anyone know the theories of what is at the core of the Solar system's gas giants? I have heard them described as 'beach balls' with no solid surface - but perhaps with pressure and heat, or cold in some cases, some of them have semi-solid surfaces? Or perhaps very hard surfaces indeed? I think it is in Arthur C. Clarke's 2010 Odyssey Two that he imagines Jupiter's core as a vast diamond (as 'big as the Ritz' if you will

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    . I suppose no one really know as yet, but are there any theories that the gas giants might have sold cores? And if so, how big are these solid cores? I would suppose any one of the four gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus or Neptune) might have a solid core that dwarfs Earth.

    If I recall, Jupiter actually produces heat, so would that suggest no solid core? What about the others? Do they give off heat?

    I appreciate any information any of you can share. Thank you all for reading this.
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  3. Electro522 Registered Senior Member

    For Jupiter, if I recall, astronomers believe that it has a solid iron/nickel core similar to Earth's because of its magnetic field. As to the size of it, we have no clue, but it could very well be bigger than Earth since the Great Red Spot is three times the size of Earth.
    As to the sloid surface, the hydrogen would get compresed enough to form a liquid making an ocean surrounding the core. I remeber hearing or reading something from a long time ago that the extreme pressure might even have the ability to compress the hydrogen into an almost solid state.
    As for the heat that Jupiter produces, it is left over from the creation of the planets. Earth is the same way and that is why we have volcanoes. A good example of a "cooled" planet is Mars. At only half the size of Earth, it cooled quicker than the other planets.
    For the other three gas giants, I would say they have the same characteristics as Jupiter, only with less pressure on their cores because of their smaller size. Uranus and Neptune might actually have oceans of liquid methane due their higher methane content (of which also gives them their blue color).
    Interesting fact about Neptune is that it is actually producing more heat than when compared to Jupiter. Astronomers are actually surprised by this and believe that the winds on Neptune (strongest in the solar system) are a cause of Neptune's heat.
    As for the "vast diamond" quote. In a planet, it won't happen (but it might actually rain diamonds on Neptune. Why, I dont know.), but in a star it can. There is actually a Guiness World record for the (possibly) largest diamond known to man that makes the core of a star. This would happen by the star creating vast amounts of carbon at the end of its life and having it become trapped inside the core. With hundreds of thousands of degrees in temperature and hundreds of thousands of pounds of pressure, we could see the formation of one massive diamond.
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  5. Epictetus here & now Registered Senior Member

    Thanks for that Electro552. I hope the rest of you will keep them coming.
    So every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven?

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  7. nathalie17 Registered Member

    Wow! Informative reply.. Thanks

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