American Physical Society via EurekAlert! - 2010 March 22
Viewpoint: Peering into JupiterNew research suggests that helium rain could be washing neon out of Jupiter's upper atmosphere.
When NASA's Galileo probe reached Jupiter in 1995 and began sending back data about the gas giant, astronomers were in for a surprise: Jupiter was unusually poor in helium and neon, the two lightest noble gases. New simulations of the physics inside the planet reveal why. The results, which provide a glimpse into Jupiter's turbulent innards, are reported in the current issue of Physical Review Letters and highlighted with a Viewpoint by Jonathan Fortney (University of California, Santa Cruz) in the March 22 issue of Physics (http://physics.aps.org).
- Physics 3, 26 (2010) DOI: 10.1103/Physics.3.26 (2010 March 22)
Sequestration of Noble Gases in Giant Planet InteriorsAb initio simulations account for the peculiar abundance characteristics of noble gases in Jupiter
- Physical Review Letters 104, 121101 (2010) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.104.121101 (2010 March 22)
The Galileo probe showed that Jupiter’s atmosphere is severely depleted in neon compared to protosolar values. We show via ab initio simulations of the partitioning of neon between hydrogen-helium phases that the observed depletion can be explained by the sequestration of neon into helium-rich droplets within the postulated hydrogen-helium immiscibility layer of the planets interior. We also demonstrate that this mechanism will not affect argon explaining the observed lack of depletion of this gas. This provides strong indirect evidence for hydrogen-helium immiscibility in Jupiter.