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ISSN  2096-3955

CN  10-1502/P

Citation: Ni, D. D. (2020). Signature of helium rain and dilute cores in Jupiter's interior from empirical equations of state. Earth Planet. Phys., 4(2), 1–9.doi: 10.26464/epp2020017

doi: 10.26464/epp2020017


Signature of helium rain and dilute cores in Jupiter's interior from empirical equations of state


State Key Laboratory of Lunar and Planetary Sciences, Macau University of Science and Technology, Macao, China


Institute for Planets and Exoplanets, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1567, USA

Corresponding author: DongDong Ni,

Received Date: 2019-10-29
Web Publishing Date: 2020-01-01

Measurements of Jupiter's gravity field by Juno have been acquired with unprecedented precision, but uncertainties in the planet’s hydrogen–helium equation of state (EOS) and the hydrogen–helium phase separation have meant that differences remain in the interior model predictions. We deduce an empirical EOS from Juno gravity field observations in terms of the hydrostatic equation and then investigate the structure and composition of Jupiter by comparison of the empirical EOS with Jupiter's adiabats obtained from the physical EOS. The deduced helium mass fraction suggests depletion of helium in the outermost atmosphere and helium concentration in the inner molecular hydrogen region, which is a signature of helium rain in Jupiter's interior. The deduced envelope metallicity (the heavy-element mass fraction) is as high in the innermost envelope as 11–13 times the solar value. Such a high metallicity provides sharp support to the dilute core model with the heavy elements dissolved in hydrogen and expanded outward. No matter how the core mass is varied, the empirical EOS derived from the two-layer interior model generally suggests higher densities in the innermost envelope than does the best-fit Jupiter's adiabat; this result is, again, a signature of dilute cores in Jupiter's interior. Moreover, no matter the core mass, the empirical EOS is found to exhibit an inflexion point in the deep interior, around 10 Mbar, which can be explained as the combined effect of helium concentration in the upper part and dilute cores in the lower part.

Key words: Jupiter, interior, abundances, interiors, geophysics

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Signature of helium rain and dilute cores in Jupiter's interior from empirical equations of state

DongDong Ni