(ORDO NEWS) — Thanks to NASA’s Juno spacecraft , which has been orbiting Jupiter since July 5, 2016, we have fairly accurate knowledge of what the internal structure of the gas giant looks like.
In the center, occupying about 30% of the planet’s volume, there is a dense liquid core, consisting of ionized (“metallic”) hydrogen and helium mixed with dissolved heavier elements.
As you move away from the center of Jupiter, the pressure and temperature decrease, which means that closer to the outer boundary, the liquid core gives way to a gaseous atmosphere, which also mainly consists of hydrogen and helium.
Unfortunately, the liquid/gas boundary is not exactly defined, but there is indirect evidence that the gaseous atmosphere is only a few thousand kilometers thick (not much, relative to a diameter of 139,820 kilometers), and everything else is liquid hydrogen and helium.
Thus, if we removed the gaseous shell of Jupiter, then, most likely, we would get a giant liquid ball, which would still be larger than Saturn.
It is worth noting that the first hints about the liquid structure of Jupiter were obtained during the NASA Galileo space mission, which ended on September 21, 2003 with the release of the apparatus into the planet’s atmosphere.
The probe, having flown into the atmosphere of Jupiter, quickly ceased to be active, as if it plunged into something “impenetrable”.
As a result, we get:
- 30% – a liquid core of hydrogen and helium, which, due to colossal temperatures and pressure, acquired metallic properties
- 65-69% – a liquid layer of hydrogen and helium, but less dense due to reduced pressure
- 1-5% – gaseous atmosphere
Calling the outer planets of the solar system “gas giants” seems like a misnomer. Most likely, one day they will have to be renamed “liquid giants”.
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