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Do the gas giants have a "surface" ?

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halcyondays

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Inspired by a comment in another thread, I have often wondered whether the gas giants have anything that approaches a definable surface. I realize that they are gaseous, so obviously no hard surface. But what would it be like if you approached Jupiter or Saturn ? Would there be a gradual fuzzy gassy reduction in visibility over several hundred or thousands of miles, or would there be a specific point after which visibility would reduce to virtually zero and we would be immersed in a gassy or gaseous environment ? Thanks.
 
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tfwthom

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From "The Nine Planets" <br /><br />The gas planets do not have solid surfaces, their gaseous material simply gets denser with depth (the radii and diameters quoted for the planets are for levels corresponding to a pressure of 1 atmosphere). What we see when looking at these planets is the tops of clouds high in their atmospheres (slightly above the 1 atmosphere level). <br /><br />Jupiter is about 90% hydrogen and 10% helium (by numbers of atoms, 75/25% by mass) with traces of methane, water, ammonia and "rock". This is very close to the composition of the primordial Solar Nebula from which the entire solar system was formed. Saturn has a similar composition, but Uranus and Neptune have much less hydrogen and helium. <br /><br />Our knowledge of the interior of Jupiter (and the other gas planets) is highly indirect and likely to remain so for some time. (The data from Galileo's atmospheric probe goes down only about 150 km below the cloud tops.) <br /><br />Jupiter probably has a core of rocky material amounting to something like 10 to 15 Earth-masses. <br /><br />Above the core lies the main bulk of the planet in the form of liquid metallic hydrogen. This exotic form of the most common of elements is possible only at pressures exceeding 4 million bars, as is the case in the interior of Jupiter (and Saturn). Liquid metallic hydrogen consists of ionized protons and electrons (like the interior of the Sun but at a far lower temperature). At the temperature and pressure of Jupiter's interior hydrogen is a liquid, not a gas. It is an electrical conductor and the source of Jupiter's magnetic field. This layer probably also contains some helium and traces of various "ices". <br /><br />The outermost layer is composed primarily of ordinary molecular hydrogen and helium which is liquid in the interior and gaseous further out. The atmosphere we see is just the very top of this deep layer. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1" color="#3366ff">www.siriuslookers.org</font> </div>
 
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nexium

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Not much different than approaching Earth's atmosphere. Perhaps 1 millibar, 10 kilometers above the cloud tops 300 millibar at the cloud tops, 10,000 milibars ten kilometers below the cloud tops and the pressure is rising rapidly.<br />Perhaps 25,000 degrees c with liquid metalic hydrogen near the center of Jupiter. The less massive gas giants likely have too little pressure to make metalic hydrogen or that much heat, but enough pressure and heat to make nearly all the elements exotic. We can produce the pressure and several thousand degrees c in the lab, but we are still mostly guessing at conditions near the center of gas giant planets. Neil
 
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willpittenger

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I have heard that Jupiter's core may be a huge diamond. Think of what happens to Carbon at those pressures and temperatures. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Will Pittenger<hr style="margin-top:0.5em;margin-bottom:0.5em" />Add this user box to your Wikipedia User Page to show your support for the SDC forums: <div style="margin-left:1em">{{User:Will Pittenger/User Boxes/Space.com Account}}</div> </div>
 
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darth_elmo

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You beat me to it. That was the theory that I've heard bruited about, too. (If it turns out to be the case...I guess diamonds won't be a girl's best friend anymore!)
 
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derekmcd

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Like i've said before... Don't tell anyone's wife or there will be a bunch of husbands on a mass exodus to jupiter. (of course, they were discussing it raining diamonds on jupiter). <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div> </div><br /><div><span style="color:#0000ff" class="Apple-style-span">"If something's hard to do, then it's not worth doing." - Homer Simpson</span></div> </div>
 
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steampower

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actualy, they already can mass produce diamonds at any (reasonable) size, De-Beers are in a tizzy about it, currently they can tell artificial diamond from natural under UV light, but it won`t take long for someone to figure out how to dope the carbon first so it has the same impurities as natural diamond (they are manufacturing diamond as a substrate for high speed electronic devices, hence the high purity), I think the original technology came out of Russia iirc, but theres an American firm currently making diamond for different applications.<br /><br />steampower
 
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CalliArcale

Guest
Actually, it's not a question of doping the diamond to look like a natural one -- it's of *not* doping it. Synthetic gemstones ("created" gems, as jewelers calls them, as most people think "synthetic" means "fake") are chemically treated so that they can be distinguished easily from natural ones. In reality, their purity tends to be a giveaway as well. Synthetic rubies in particular appear unnaturally clear and red, as natural ones are almost never that good.<br /><br />Random tidbit: there is a company that will create a diamond out of human cremains. (Cremains = ashes left from cremation.) You can send them a packet of your loved one along with a rather significant fee. They'll extract carbon from the ashes and turn it into a gem-quality diamond, cut the diamond, and mount it in a setting of your choice. It seems like slightly creepy jewelry, but it would certainly be a lasting tribute. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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