Tuesday, April 11, 2017
4:00 pm
South Mudd 365

Planetary Science Seminar

Planetary Interiors Studied with Ab Initio Simulations
Burkhard Militzer, Professor, UC Berkeley

This talk will briefly review the interior structures of different types of planets. We illustrate how
laboratory experiments and ab initio computer simulations can be used to characterize the
properties of materials at extreme pressure and temperature conditions (10,000 K and 10 Mbar)
that are present in planetary interiors. We describe our equation of state calculations for
hydrogen-helium mixtures in giant planets and discuss our current effort to construct models for
Jupiter's interior that match the gravity data measured by the Juno spacecraft. Then we present
simulation results from hydrogen-water mixtures in order to address the question whether
Uranus and Neptune have oceans. We conclude by discussing simulation of iron alloys in the core
of the Earth. Since the seminal work by Birch, it is known that light elements must be present in
the inner and outer core. However, the actual composition of the light, alloying component has
remained elusive. We provide one proposal to match the seismic observations in the Preliminary
Reference Earth Model (PREM).

Contact Elizabeth Bailey ebailey@caltech.edu
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