Rings of pressures

Published: Tuesday 15 August 2000

Physicists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA, have found evidence that deuterium --one of the two isotopes of hydrogen -- is metallic at pressures of about two hundred thousand times the atmospheric pressure and temperatures of around 8,000C. These pressures are far lower than what scientists had assumed would be required to cause the transition from a non-metal to a metal in deuterium.

The result is significant because it throws light on the internal structure of Jupiter, that is still somewhat of a mystery. It is made mostly of hydrogen. Gradually the hydrogen condenses into a thick fog of liquid droplets, before they coalesce completely into a hot liquid sea. With these new findings the old models of the internal structure of Jupiter would need to be revised ( Physical Review Letters , Vol 84, p5564).

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