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Physics & Astronomy/STAR cluster seminar: Solar System Seismology: Probing the Interior Structure of Giant Planets

February 7 @ 2:30 pm

Benjamin Leblanc,
Bishop’s University

The outer regions of Jupiter’s internal structures have been relatively well mapped throughout the last 30 years using observations from spacecraft like Voyager I and II. The deep interior of the gas giant, however, is something that has long eluded scientists. In fact, the interior of most planets have not been directly probed. The only planet whose interior has been well mapped is the Earth, using seismology. Seismology on Earth is the study of how earthquakes and other vibrations affect the Earth. Scientists are capable of inferring the interior structure of the Earth based on the frequency, phase and amplitude of these oscillations. The idea of seismology can be extended to stellar and planetary objects by examining how these objects may oscillate through perturbation analysis. This method has been successfully applied to stars, including our Sun; the next logical step is then gaseous planets. Using the MESA software, we will model Jupiter sized planets with varying core sizes and perturb them. The interior parameters of the planets will affect how these perturbations propagate. We can then record the frequencies of the perturbations and how the modeled planets react in a catalog. Once observations have been collected with sophisticated enough instruments, they can be compared to our data to determine the interior of the planets. Understanding the interior structure of Jupiter will allow us to determine how the planet was formed. If this is successful, it could be applied to any exoplanet, giving insight into planetary and solar system formation.


February 7
2:30 pm
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Physics Department
819-822-9600 ext. 2355