NS: Puffed-up planets are heated like toast

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bystander
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NS: Puffed-up planets are heated like toast

Post by bystander » Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:25 pm

Puffed-up planets are heated like toast
New Scientist - 2010 March 08
A PLANET-sized version of an electric toaster could explain why some exoplanets get so large. A related phenomenon could be responsible for keeping in check the gusting winds that form the stripes of Jupiter.
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Konstantin Batygin and David Stevenson of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena now suggest that the missing energy could originate in a wind of charged particles circling the planet. The temperature in the atmospheres of hot Jupiters is high enough to knock large numbers of electrons off atoms like sodium and potassium. These electrons could then be whipped around by the planet's winds and interact with its magnetic field, generating a current that can extend deep into the planet (see diagram), heating up its interior like the element of an electric toaster (arxiv.org/abs/1002.3650).