Research News

Planetary Science: Shock Forges Piece of Jovian Interior

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Science  22 Mar 1996:
Vol. 271, Issue 5256, pp. 1667-1668
DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5256.1667


The impact of a high-speed projectile at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has forged a material never seen before on Earth: a silvery, electrically conducting metallic form of hydrogen. Metallic hydrogen was already thought to make up most of the interiors of the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn, but the Livermore result shows that it forms at lower pressures—closer to each planet's surface—than was thought. That could help explain Jupiter's outsized magnetic field and its powerful winds.