Cambridge: How Hydrogen Becomes a Metal Inside Giant Planets

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Cambridge: How Hydrogen Becomes a Metal Inside Giant Planets

Post by bystander » Thu Sep 10, 2020 5:13 pm

How Hydrogen Becomes a Metal Inside Giant Planets
Cambridge University, UK | 2020 Sep 09

Researchers have used a combination of AI and quantum mechanics to reveal how hydrogen gradually turns into a metal in giant planets.

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Credit: Sarah Collins (Cambridge University)
Dense metallic hydrogen – a phase of hydrogen which behaves like an electrical conductor – makes up the interior of giant planets, but it is difficult to study and poorly understood. By combining artificial intelligence and quantum mechanics, researchers have found how hydrogen becomes a metal under the extreme pressure conditions of these planets.

The researchers, from the University of Cambridge, IBM Research and EPFL, used machine learning to mimic the interactions between hydrogen atoms in order to overcome the size and timescale limitations of even the most powerful supercomputers. They found that instead of happening as a sudden, or first-order, transition, the hydrogen changes in a smooth and gradual way. ...

Hydrogen, consisting of one proton and one electron, is both the simplest and the most abundant element in the Universe. It is the dominant component of the interior of the giant planets in our solar system – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune – as well as exoplanets orbiting other stars.

At the surfaces of giant planets, hydrogen remains a molecular gas. Moving deeper into the interiors of giant planets however, the pressure exceeds millions of standard atmospheres. Under this extreme compression, hydrogen undergoes a phase transition: the covalent bonds inside hydrogen molecules break, and the gas becomes a metal that conducts electricity. ...

Evidence for Supercritical Behavior of High-Pressure Liquid Hydrogen ~ Bingqing Cheng, Guglielmo Mazzola, Michele Ceriotti
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