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Space Science

Is Jupiter Dissolving Its Rocky Core? 181

sciencehabit writes "Jupiter is the victim of its own success. Sophisticated new calculations indicate that our solar system's largest planet, which weighs more than twice as much as all of the others put together, has destroyed part of its central core. The culprit is the very hydrogen and helium that made Jupiter a gas giant, when the core's gravity attracted these elements as the planet formed. The finding suggests that the most massive extrasolar planets have no cores at all."
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Is Jupiter Dissolving Its Rocky Core?

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  • Ho Hum (Score:1, Interesting)

    by kodiaktau ( 2351664 ) on Monday December 19, 2011 @03:10PM (#38425554) Journal
    Interesting thing about that core, on Earth it helps to create stability in our rotation and it also helps to keep our atmosphere in tact - keeping water in so life can continue. Would be interesting to see some kind of drilling or other process to validate the assertion on other planets. Alas our current US government has sought to sink our space program so it will need to wait for another day.
  • Re:core is icey hot? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by polymeris ( 902231 ) on Monday December 19, 2011 @03:48PM (#38425994)

    High pressure from all that mass, possibly? [] Just speculating here.

  • Re:Weight? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 19, 2011 @03:59PM (#38426120)

    You do realize that liquid rock has the exact same mass as solid, right?

    That's mostly correct, but as heat is a form of energy and E=mc^2, a rock changed into liquid state would mean that it weighs oh-so-slightly more. For some napkin calculations: the specific heat of iron (at 273 K) is 0.45 J/(K g) meaning that if we had a thousand tons of iron (1E9 g) and increased the temperature 1000 K then the increase of mass would be: 0.45*1E9*1000/(3E8)^2 = 5E-3 g. All that mass and energy for a full 5 milligrams, which is why it's mostly negligible

    Disclaimer: I know that the specific heat changes (quite a bit) with temperature but I wanted to keep the example simple.

  • Re:Ho Hum (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 19, 2011 @04:24PM (#38426440)

    Which brings up the question: Which will happen first? Earth's core cooling to the point where we lose our atmosphere, or the Sun running out of fuel to the point where Earth can no longer sustain life (as we like it)?

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