The Evolution and Internal Structure of Jupiter and Saturn with Compositional Gradients

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A. Vazan, R. Helled, M. Podolak, A. Kovetz
(Submitted on 5 Jun 2016)

The internal structure of gas giant planets may be more complex than the commonly assumed core-envelope structure with an adiabatic temperature profile. Different primordial internal structures as well as various physical processes can lead to non-homogenous compositional distributions. A non-homogenous internal structure has a significant impact on the thermal evolution and final structure of the planets. In this paper, we present alternative structure and evolution models for Jupiter and Saturn allowing for non-adiabatic primordial structures and the mixing of heavy elements by convection as these planets evolve. We present the evolution of the planets accounting for various initial composition gradients, and in the case of Saturn, include the formation of a helium-rich region as a result of helium rain. We investigate the stability of regions with composition gradients against convection, and find that the helium shell in Saturn remains stable and does not mix with the rest of the envelope. In other cases, convection mixes the planetary interior despite the existence of compositional gradients, leading to the enrichment of the envelope with heavy elements. We show that non-adiabatic structures (and cooling histories) for both Jupiter and Saturn are feasible. The interior temperatures in that case are much higher that for standard adiabatic models. We conclude that the internal structure is directly linked to the formation and evolution history of the planet. These alternative internal structures of Jupiter and Saturn should be considered when interpreting the upcoming Juno and Cassini data.

Comments: accepted for publication in ApJ
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1606.01558 [astro-ph.EP]
(or arXiv:1606.01558v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Allona Vazan
[v1] Sun, 5 Jun 2016 20:41:49 GMT (553kb)


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