Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Scientists discover what extraordinary compounds may be hidden inside Jupiter and Neptune
by Staff Writers
Moscow, Russia (SPX) Sep 07, 2016

The interior structure of Uranus is illustrated. Image courtesy MIPT. For a larger version of this image please go here.

Using computer modeling, chemists from MIPT and Skoltech (the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology) have found out which molecules may be present in the interiors of Uranus, Neptune, and the icy satellites of the giant planets.

The scientists discovered that at high pressures, which are typical for the interiors of such planets, exotic molecular and polymeric compounds are formed. These compounds include carbonic acid and orthocarbonic acid, the latter also known as 'Hitler's Acid'. The results of the study have been published in the prestigious journal Scientific Reports.

"The smaller gas giants - Uranus and Neptune - consist largely of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. We have found that at a pressure of several million atmospheres unexpected compounds should form in their interiors. The cores of these planets may largely consist of these exotic materials," says the study's lead author Artem Oganov, professor of Skoltech and the head of MIPT's Computational Materials Discovery Lab.

A team led by Professor Oganov developed the world's most universal and powerful algorithm for crystal structure and compound prediction - USPEX (Universal Structure Predictor: Evolutionary Xtallography).

In recent years, scientists have used this algorithm to discover several substances that are 'forbidden' in classical chemistry and that may be stable at high pressures. These include a number of previously unknown variants of salt - Na3Cl, NaCl3, NaCl7 and even Na3Cl2 andNa4Cl3, as well as exotic new oxides of magnesium, silicon and aluminium which may exist in the interiors of super-Earths.

Now Oganov and his co-author Gabriele Saleh from MIPT have decided to study the chemical behaviour of the carbon-hydrogen-oxygen system under high pressure. "This is an extremely important system because all organic chemistry 'rests on' these three elements, and until now it had not been entirely clear how they behave under extreme pressures and temperatures. In addition, they play an essential role in the chemistry of the giant planets," says Oganov.

The scientists knew that under atmospheric pressure all compounds of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, except for methane, water, and carbon dioxide, are thermodynamically unstable. With an increase in pressure, water and carbon dioxide remain stable, but at pressures above 93 gigapascals (0.93 million atmospheres)methane begins to decompose forming heavy hydrocarbons - ethane, butane, and polyethylene.

At a lower pressure - approximately 4 GPa - methane and molecular hydrogen interact, forming co-crystals (where two molecules together create one crystal structure), and at 6 GPa, hydrates - CO-crystals made of methane and water - are formed. To put this into A context, the pressure at the bottom of the Mariana Trench(the deepest part of the world's oceans) is 108.6 megapascals, which is one thousand times lower.

Oganov and Saleh took on the task of finding all stable compounds in the range up to 400 GPa (around 4 million atmospheres) and discovered several new substances. These included a clathrate (inclusion compound, a type of co-crystal) of molecular hydrogen and methane 2CH4:3H2, which is stable in the pressure range 10-215 GPa.

The scientists also found that at a pressure above 0.95 GPa (approximately 10,000 atmospheres), carbonic acid (H2CO3) becomes thermodynamically stable. This is very unusual for a substance that is highly unstable under normal conditions - strong acids are needed for its synthesis and it can only exist in a vacuum at very low temperatures, the authors write.

"It is possible that the cores of Neptune and Uranus may contain significant amounts of a polymer of carbonic acid and orthocarbonic acid," says Oganov.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
The million outer planets of a star called Sol

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Pluto Flyby - A Year Later
Bethesda MD (SPX) Aug 05, 2016
About a year ago the New horizons spacecraft, funded by NASA and built by the Applied Physics Lab of Johns Hopkins University, completed its 9 0.5-year flight from Earth to the now dwarf planet, Pluto. New Horizons has proven to be the "little spacecraft that could." It has travelled some three billion miles in order to capture the first detailed Pluto images and close-up science data. Bef ... read more

Space tourists eye $150mln Soyuz lunar flyby

Roscosmos to spend $7.5Mln studying issues of manned lunar missions

Lockheed Martin, NASA Ink Deal for SkyFire Infrared Lunar Discovery Satellite

As dry as the moon

Test for damp ground at Mars' seasonal streaks finds none

NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Mars 2020 Rover Mission

Year-long simulation of humans living on Mars ends in Hawaii

Boredom was hardest part of yearlong dome isolation

At Berlin tech fair, waterproof gadgets make a splash

Grandpa astronaut breaks US space record

35 years later Voyager's legacy continues at Saturn

Chinese sci-fi prepares to master the universe

China Sends Country's Largest Carrier Rocket to Launch Base

'Heavenly Palace': China to Launch Two Manned Space Missions This Fall

China unveils Mars probe, rover for ambitious 2020 mission

China Ends Preparatory Work on Long March 5 Next-Generation Rocket Engine

Space Station's orbit adjusted Wednesday

Astronauts Relaxing Before Pair of Spaceships Leave

'New port of call' installed at space station

US astronauts prepare spacewalk to install new docking port

With operational acceptance complete, Western Range is ready for launch

Russia to Build New Launch Pad for Angara Rockets by 2019

Galileo's Ariane 5 arrives at Europe's Spaceport

SpaceX to launch satellite by reusing rocket

Rocky planet found orbiting habitable zone of nearest star

A new Goldilocks for habitable planets

Venus-like Exoplanet Might Have Oxygen Atmosphere, but Not Life

Brown dwarfs reveal exoplanets' secrets

Berlin's IFA fair dons virtual reality headsets

Shrinking the inside of an explosion

New optical material offers unprecedented control of light and thermal radiation

'Materials that compute' advances as Pitt engineers demonstrate pattern recognition

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement