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The Fuzziness of Giant Planets’ Cores

Helled, Ravit and Stevenson, David (2017) The Fuzziness of Giant Planets’ Cores. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 840 (1). L4. ISSN 2041-8213. doi:10.3847/2041-8213/aa6d08.

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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.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Stevenson, David0000-0001-9432-7159
Additional Information:© 2017 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2017 January 30; revised 2017 March 23; accepted 2017 April 4; published 2017 April 26. We thank Peter Bodenheimer, Michael Lozovsky, Allona Vazan, Tristan Guillot and an anonymous referee for valuable comments. R.H. acknowledges support from SNSF grant 200021_169054.
Group:Astronomy Department
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)200021_169054
Subject Keywords:planets and satellites: composition – planets and satellites: interiors
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170720-084521733
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Ravit Helled and David Stevenson 2017 ApJL 840 L4
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:79240
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:20 Jul 2017 16:08
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 17:46

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