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The fuzziness of giant planets’ cores


Helled, Ravit; Stevenson, David (2017). The fuzziness of giant planets’ cores. The Astrophysical Journal. Letters, 840(1):4.

Abstract

Giant planets are thought to have cores in their deep interiors, and the division into a heavy-element core and hydrogen–helium envelope is applied in both formation and structure models. We show that the primordial internal structure depends on the planetary growth rate, in particular, the ratio of heavy elements accretion to gas accretion. For a wide range of likely conditions, this ratio is in one-to-one correspondence with the resulting post-accretion profile of heavy elements within the planet. This flux ratio depends sensitively on the assumed solid-surface density in the surrounding nebula. We suggest that giant planets' cores might not be distinct from the envelope and includes some hydrogen and helium, and the deep interior can have a gradual heavy-element structure. Accordingly, Jupiter's core may not be well defined. Accurate measurements of Jupiter's gravitational field by Juno could put constraints on Jupiter's core mass. However, as we suggest here, the definition of Jupiter's core is complex, and the core's physical properties (mass, density) depend on the actual definition of the core and on the planet's growth history.

Abstract

Giant planets are thought to have cores in their deep interiors, and the division into a heavy-element core and hydrogen–helium envelope is applied in both formation and structure models. We show that the primordial internal structure depends on the planetary growth rate, in particular, the ratio of heavy elements accretion to gas accretion. For a wide range of likely conditions, this ratio is in one-to-one correspondence with the resulting post-accretion profile of heavy elements within the planet. This flux ratio depends sensitively on the assumed solid-surface density in the surrounding nebula. We suggest that giant planets' cores might not be distinct from the envelope and includes some hydrogen and helium, and the deep interior can have a gradual heavy-element structure. Accordingly, Jupiter's core may not be well defined. Accurate measurements of Jupiter's gravitational field by Juno could put constraints on Jupiter's core mass. However, as we suggest here, the definition of Jupiter's core is complex, and the core's physical properties (mass, density) depend on the actual definition of the core and on the planet's growth history.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute for Computational Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:530 Physics
Language:English
Date:April 2017
Deposited On:09 Jan 2018 22:27
Last Modified:09 Jan 2018 22:31
Publisher:IOP Publishing
ISSN:2041-8205
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3847/2041-8213/aa6d08

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