Posts Tagged ‘Jupiter’

saturn

t sounds like a wacky fantasy, but scientists believe that it rains diamonds in the clouds of Saturn and Jupiter.

Diamonds are made from highly compressed and heated carbon. Theoretically, if you took a charcoal bricket out of your grill and heated it and pressed it hard enough for long enough, you could make a diamond.

On Earth, diamonds form about 100 miles underground. Volcanic magma highways then bring them closer to the surface, providing us with shiny gemstones that we stick in rings and ear studs.

But in the dense atmospheres of planets like Jupiter and Saturn, whose massive size generates enormous amounts of gravity, crazy amounts of pressure and heat can squeeze carbon in mid-air — and make it rain diamonds.

Scientists have speculated for years that diamonds are abundant in the cores of the smaller, cooler gas giants, Neptune and Uranus. They believed that the larger gaseous planets, Jupiter and Saturn, didn’t have suitable atmospheres to forge diamonds.

But when researchers recently analyzed the pressures and temperatures for Jupiter’s and Saturn’s atmospheres, then modeled how carbon would behave, they determined that diamond rain is very likely.

Diamonds seem especially likely to form in huge, storm-ravaged regions of Saturn, and in enormous quantities — Kevin Baines, a researcher at University of Madison-Wisconsin and NASA JPL, told BBC News it may rain as much as 2.2 million pounds of diamonds there every year.

The diamonds start out as methane gas. Powerful lightning storms on the two huge gas giants then zap it into carbon soot.

“As the soot falls, the pressure on it increases,” Baines told the BBC. “And after about 1,000 miles it turns to graphite – the sheet-like form of carbon you find in pencils.”

And the graphite keeps falling. When it reaches the deep atmosphere of Saturn, for example — around 3,700 miles down — the immense pressure squeezes the carbon into diamonds, which float in seas of liquid methane and hydrogen.

Eventually the gems sink toward the interior of the planet (a depth of 18,600 miles), where nightmarish pressure and heat melts the diamonds into molten carbon.

“Once you get down to those extreme depths,” Baines told the BBC, “the pressure and temperature is so hellish, there’s no way the diamonds could remain solid.”

http://www.techinsider.io/diamond-rain-saturn-jupiter-2016-4

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By Kenneth Chang

Clay tablets, including one at the left, revealed that Babylonian astronomers employed a sort of precalculus to describe Jupiter’s motion across the night sky relative to distant background stars. They did this 15 centuries earlier than Europeans were first credited with making such measurements.

For people living in the ancient city of Babylon, Marduk was their patron god, and thus it is not a surprise that Babylonian astronomers took an interest in tracking the comings and goings of the planet Jupiter, which they regarded as a celestial manifestation of Marduk.

What is perhaps more surprising is the sophistication with which they tracked the planet, judging from inscriptions on a small clay tablet dating to between 350 B.C. and 50 B.C. The tablet, a couple of inches wide and a couple of inches tall, reveals that the Babylonian astronomers employed a sort of precalculus in describing Jupiter’s motion across the night sky relative to the distant background stars. Until now, credit for this kind of mathematical technique had gone to Europeans who lived some 15 centuries later.

Additional tablets, including this one, show that the Babylonians realized that the area under the curve of a graph of velocity against time represented distance traveled.

“It’s a figure that describes a graph of velocity against time,” he said. “That is a highly modern concept.”

Mathematical calculations on four other tablets show that the Babylonians realized that the area under the curve on such a graph represented the distance traveled.

“I think it’s quite a remarkable discovery,” said Alexander Jones, a professor at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University, who was not involved with the research. “It’s really quite clear from the text.”

Ancient Babylon, situated in what is now Iraq, south of Baghdad, was a thriving metropolis, a center of trade and science. Early Babylonian mathematicians who lived between 1800 B.C. and 1600 B.C. had figured out, for example, how to calculate the area of a trapezoid, and even how to divide a trapezoid into two smaller trapezoids of equal area.

For the most part, Babylonians used their mathematical skills for mundane calculations, like figuring out the size of a plot of land. But on some tablets from the later Babylonian period, there appear to be some trapezoid calculations related to astronomical observations.

In the 1950s, an Austrian-American mathematician and science historian, Otto E. Neugebauer, described two of them. Dr. Ossendrijver, in his recent research, turned up two more.

But it was not clear what the Babylonian astronomers were calculating.

A year ago, a visitor showed Dr. Ossendrijver a stack of photographs of Babylonian tablets that are now held by the British Museum in London. He saw a tablet he had not seen before. This tablet, with impressions of cuneiform script pressed into clay, did not mention trapezoids, but it recorded the motion of Jupiter, and the numbers matched those on the tablets with the trapezoid calculations.

“I was certain now it was Jupiter,” Dr. Ossendrijver said.

When Jupiter first appears in the night sky, it moves at a certain velocity relative to the background stars. Because Jupiter and Earth both constantly move in their orbits, to observers on Earth, Jupiter appears to slow down, and 120 days after it becomes visible, it comes to a standstill and reverses course.

In September, Dr. Ossendrijver went to the British Museum, where the tablets were taken in the late 19th century after being excavated. A close-up look of the new tablet confirmed it: The Babylonians were calculating the distance Jupiter traveled in the sky from its appearance to its position 60 days later. Using the technique of splitting a trapezoid into two smaller ones of equal area, they then figured out how long it took Jupiter to travel half that distance.

Dr. Ossendrijver said he did not know the astronomical or astrological motivation for these calculations.

It was an abstract concept not known elsewhere at the time. “Ancient Greek astronomers and mathematicians didn’t make plots of something against time,” Dr. Ossendrijver said. He said that until now, such calculations were not known until the 14th century by scholars in England and France. These mathematicians of the Middle Ages perhaps had seen some as yet unknown texts dating to Babylonian times, or they developed the same techniques independently.

“It anticipates integral calculus,” Dr. Ossendrijver said. “This is utterly familiar to any modern physicist or mathematician.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/29/science/babylonians-clay-tablets-geometry-astronomy-jupiter.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=1

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the It’s Interesting community.


The ocean there is thought to extend to 10 times the depth of Earth’s oceans.

A salty ocean is lurking beneath the surface of Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede, scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope have found.

The ocean on Ganymede—which is buried under a thick crust of ice—could actually harbor more water than all of Earth’s surface water combined, according to NASA officials. Scientists think the ocean is about 60 miles (100 kilometers) thick, 10 times the depth of Earth’s oceans, NASA added. The new Hubble Space Telescope finding could also help scientists learn more about the plethora of potentially watery worlds that exist in the solar system and beyond.

“The solar system is now looking like a pretty soggy place,” said Jim Green, NASA’s director of planetary science. Scientists are particularly interested in learning more about watery worlds because life as we know it depends on water to thrive.

Scientists have also found that Ganymede’s surface shows signs of flooding. Young parts of Ganymede seen in a video map may have been formed by water bubbling up from the interior of the moon through faults or cryo-volcanos at some point in the moon’s history, Green said.

Scientists have long suspected that there was an ocean of liquid water on Ganymede—the largest moon in the solar system, at about 3,273 miles (5,268 kilometers) across—has an ocean of liquid water beneath its surface. The Galileo probe measured Ganymede’s magnetic field in 2002, providing some data supporting the theory that the moon has an ocean. The newly announced evidence from the Hubble telescope is the most convincing data supporting the subsurface ocean theory yet, according to NASA.

Scientists used Hubble to monitor Ganymede’s auroras, ribbons of light at the poles created by the moon’s magnetic field. The moon’s auroras are also affected by Jupiter’s magnetic field because of the moon’s proximity to the huge planet.

When Jupiter’s magnetic field changes, so does Ganymede’s. Researchers were able to watch the two auroras “rock” back and forth with Hubble. Ganymede’s aurora didn’t rock as much as expected, so by monitoring that motion, the researchers concluded that a subsurface ocean was likely responsible for dampening the change in Ganymede’s aurora created by Jupiter.

“I was always brainstorming how we could use a telescope in other ways,” Joachim Saur, geophysicist and team leader of the new finding, said in a statement. “Is there a way you could use a telescope to look inside a planetary body? Then I thought, the aurorae! Because aurorae are controlled by the magnetic field, if you observe the aurorae in an appropriate way, you learn something about the magnetic field. If you know the magnetic field, then you know something about the moon’s interior.”

Hunting for auroras on other worlds could potentially help identify water-rich alien planets in the future, Heidi Hammel, executive vice president of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, said during the teleconference. Scientists might be able to search for rocking auroras on exoplanets that could potentially harbor water using the lessons learned from the Hubble observations of Ganymede.

Astronomers might be able to detect oceans on planets near magnetically active stars using similar methods to those used by Saur and his research team, Hammel added.

“By monitoring auroral activity on exoplanets, we may be able to infer the presence of water on or within an exoplanet,” Hammel said. “Now, it’s not going to be easy—it’s not as easy as Ganymede and Jupiter, and that wasn’t easy. It may require a much larger telescope than Hubble, it may require some future space telescope, but nevertheless, it’s a tool now that we didn’t have prior to this work that Joachim and his team have done.”

Jupiter’s moons are popular targets for future space missions. The European Space Agency is planning to send a probe called JUICE—short for JUpiter ICy moons Explorer—to Jupiter and its moons in 2022. JUICE is expected to check out Europa, Callisto and Ganymede during its mission. NASA also has its eye on the Jupiter system. Officials are hoping to send a probe to Europa by the mid-2020s.

NASA will also celebrate the Hubble telescope’s 25th anniversary this year.

“This discovery marks a significant milestone, highlighting what only Hubble can accomplish,” John Grunsfeld, assistant administrator of NASA’s Science Mission, said in the same statement. “In its 25 years in orbit, Hubble has made many scientific discoveries in our own solar system. A deep ocean under the icy crust of Ganymede opens up further exciting possibilities for life beyond Earth.”

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/jupiter-s-moon-ganymede-has-a-salty-ocean-with-more-water-than-earth/