What Is Jupiter Made Of?

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  • Release Date: September 4, 2023
  • Episode Summary: In this episode, Arwen answers two intriguing questions about the chemical composition of gas planets like Jupiter and Saturn and whether gas dwarf planets exist. Dive into the world of elements, molecules, and exotic celestial bodies.

1. Building Blocks of Matter:

  • Introduction to the concept of atoms as the fundamental building blocks of matter.
  • Explanation of elements and their role as the basic constituents of everything.
  • Comparison of elements to versatile Lego blocks that can be combined in various ways to create different substances.

2. Chemical Composition of Gas Planets:

  • Discussion on the primary chemicals found in gas planets, focusing on Jupiter and Saturn.
  • Clarification of the dual meaning of "gas" in space science, referring to both the state of matter and a specific type of chemical.
  • Emphasis on hydrogen and helium as the dominant elements in gas giants, making up 99% of their composition.

3. Gas Giants: More than Gas:

  • Explanation of the misconception that gas giants are entirely gaseous.
  • Description of the layered structure of gas giants, where the outer layers consist of gas while the inner regions transition into a hot liquid due to intense pressure.
  • Insights into the presence of other elements, such as iron and nickel, deeper within these planets.

4. The Mysterious Ice Giants:

  • Brief mention of Uranus and Neptune, known as the ice giants, despite their misleading names.
  • Explanation of how the ice giants share a similar layered structure with gas giants, featuring gas at the top and liquid deeper inside.
  • Highlighting the extreme temperatures at the cores of these planets.

5. Exoplanets: A Variety of Worlds:

  • Introduction to the study of exoplanets, planets outside our solar system.
  • Mention of the diverse exoplanets discovered, including gas giants similar to those in our solar system.
  • Exploration of the possibility of gas dwarf planets and the challenges of their detection with current technology.

6. Planet Classification and Evolving Understanding:

  • Discussion on the evolving understanding of planetary classification, including terms like dwarf gas giants, mini Neptunes, and super Earths.
  • Insight into the dynamic nature of space science terminology as new discoveries reshape our knowledge.
  • Enthusiastic encouragement for listeners to send in questions and topics for future episodes.