What’s It Like Inside Jupiter? Below The Clouds Of A Gas Giant

The internal structure of Jupiter

In the interior of the planet, hydrogen, helium and argon (a noble gas that accumulates on Jupiter’s surface) are progressively compressed. Molecular hydrogen is compressed in such a way that it is transformed into a metallic liquid at depths of about 15,000 km below the surface.

Further down, a rocky core of mainly icy and denser materials is expected to exist, of about seven Earth masses (although a recent model increases the mass of the central core of this planet to between 14 and 18 Earth masses). Also, other authors think that such a core may not exist. And there is also the possibility that the core was originally larger, but that convective currents of hot metallic hydrogen would have caused it to lose mass).

The existence of the different layers is determined by the study of the gravitational potential of the planet, measured by the different space probes. If the inner core exists, it would prove the theory of planetary formation from a disk of planetesimals.

Jupiter is so massive that it has not yet released the heat accumulated in its formation, and therefore possesses an important internal source of heat energy that has been precisely measured and is equivalent to 5.4 W/m². This means that the interior of the planet is effectively mixed to at least near cloud water levels at 5 bar.

Inside Jupiter

Jupiter is a gaseous planet and as such consists mainly of hydrogen and helium, although it is believed to have a rocky core the size of the Earth. The presence of layers of liquid conductors (metallic hydrogen) endows Jupiter with a magnetic field. It is the largest planet in the solar system and spins around itself at high speed: its day is only 9.84 hours.

Jupiter also has rings, although they are very small and are composed of rocks the size of smoke particles.

If Jupiter’s mass during its formation had been 8 times greater, it would have acquired the mass necessary to raise the internal temperature enough to initiate fusion and become a star. If this had happened, there would be two stars in the solar system and life on Earth would not exist because our planet would receive too much energy.

The planet Jupiter can be an object of study of great interest even to amateur astronomers. With a telescope, even with simple binoculars, you can get the image of Jupiter and its moons that Galileo observed more than 400 years ago.


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