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GiantPlanetsI_17mar08

GiantPlanetsI_17mar08 - Giant Planets THE GIANT PLANETS AND...

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1 Giant Planets THE GIANT PLANETS AND PLANETARY SYSTEMS OF THE OUTER SOLAR SYSTEM – JUPITER, SATURN, URANUS AND NEPTUNE. PRINCIPAL POINTS: 1. LARGER DISTANCES FROM THE SUN: 5.2 AU (Jupiter) – 30.1 AU (Neptune-at times the most distant planet-at times Pluto orbits inside). 2. BIG e.g. JUPITER – x 318 THE MASS OF THE EARTH; ALMOST 3/4( 71%) THE TOTAL MASS OF ALL THE PLANETS. 3. LOW DENSITY e.g. SATURN WOULD FLOAT IN LIQUID WATER, AT ONLY 0.71 g/cm3. 4. SHORT ROTATIONAL PERIODS/RAPID SPIN RATES.
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2 Giant Planets (Continued) 5. ROTATIONAL AXIS ORIENTATIONS e.g.Uranus,its rings and its >15 moons (5 major;>10 minor) rotate on their “side” relative to the geometry of the Solar System as a whole,like a huge “Ferris Wheel”. 6.LONG ORBITAL PERIODS(11.9 – 165 YEARS). 7. SPECTACULAR COLOURED VISIBLE CLOUD TOPS – ATMOSPHERIC COMPOSITION AND STRUCTURE. 8.SPECTACULAR RINGS (ALL FOUR). 9. MULTIPLE MOONS e.g. recent count for Saturn – 30(!);6 major and 24(!) minor (Nature,12 July 2001). 10. INTERNAL STRUCTURE,VERY HIGH INTERNAL PRESSURES/ TEMPERATURES,AND LAYERED COMPOSITIONS
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3 Giant Planets (Continued) 11. 3 OF 4 GENERATE MORE HEAT THAN THEY RECEIVE – JUPITER( ~x 1.7),SATURN( ~x 1.8) AND NEPTUNE( ~x 2.6);NOT SIGNIFICANTLY URANUS(Ingersoll ,1999). 12. SIGNIFICANT MAGNETIC FIELDS AND MAGNETOSPHERES? YES – ALL FOUR(4). 13. ORIGIN – CONSTRAINTS AND ASPECTS; some surprises e.g. Uranus and Neptune may not have originated at their present positions! (See discussion on p.2054,Science,10 Dec.,1999).
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4 Atmosphere - Composition BULK COMPOSITION: THE ATMOSPHERES OF ALL FOUR(4) GIANT PLANETS ARE SIMILAR TO EACH OTHER, AND LIKE NOTHING WHICH WE HAVE SEEN BEFORE – VERY INTERESTINGLY,THEY CONSIST PREDOMINANTLY OF THE TWO COMPONENTS WHICH ARE MOST ABUNDANT IN THE SOLAR COMPOSITION: MOLECULAR HYDROGEN(H2) AND ATOMIC HELIUM (He), incl. their isotopes (two stable isotopes each). THE SUN IS 84% H2 + 16% He (MOLAR); ALL OTHER COMPONENTS ARE < 0.15%(H2O).
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6 BELOW THE GASEOUS HYDROGEN – HELIUM ATMOSPHERES: A LAYER OF FLUID MOLECULAR HYDROGEN + HELIUM – with ~24% He for Jupiter and ~14% for Saturn. Both estimates are lower than protosolar nebula (solar) model values of ~28% -- hence, some of the helium is thought to have separated out and to be concentrated in deeper regions. 2. A THICK LAYER OF LIQUID METALLIC HYDROGEN + HELIUM
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GiantPlanetsI_17mar08 - Giant Planets THE GIANT PLANETS AND...

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