Hydrostatic Equilibrium

Hydrostatic Equilibrium - materials are in a gaseous state...

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Hydrostatic Equilibrium Gravity pulls downward/inward on the molecules in an atmosphere but atmospheres remain "puffy" because of the moving gas particles supply pressure upward/outward. An atmosphere will not get puffier or shrink if the outward thermal pressure of the gases is balances by the inward gravity compression. This balance between pressure and gravity is called hydrostatic equilibrium . In the interior of planets, the resistance of the solid or liquid material supplies the pressure. In an atmosphere, the moving gases supply the pressure. If the Earth was at the distance of Pluto from the Sun, the nitrogen, oxygen, water, etc. in our air would freeze out and gravity would cause it all to collect on the surface about 12 meters thick. At our warmer position, these
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Unformatted text preview: materials are in a gaseous state and make a layer 100 kilometers thick. [More accurately, our atmosphere extends out even further, beyond where the Space Shuttle can reach and where the International Space Station is but the air pressure is extremely small so 100 kilometers has been set as the "boundary" (fuzzy though it is) where space begins. Objects in low Earth orbit do feel a slight drag though and therefore need to be periodically boosted back up to their original orbit or they will spiral downward and burn up in our atmosphere.] Lower layers of the atmosphere feel greater gravity compression from all of the material in the layers above pushing down on them. Therefore, they exert greater pressure to keep the balance....
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This note was uploaded on 12/15/2011 for the course AST AST1002 taught by Professor Emilyhoward during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.

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Hydrostatic Equilibrium - materials are in a gaseous state...

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