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Jupiter's Evolution

07/17/2017 8:19 AM

Jupiter's evolution:

I have heard Jupiter referred to as a failed star,not having quite enough mass for fusion in the core.

Perhaps this was to be the sun's companion star,but didn't quite make it.

Could Jupiter eventually accumulate enough mass to become a star,or is it forever to remain on the bench while the planets revolve around the sun?

If it did eventually begin fusion,what would happen to the planets?

Can you imagine our solar system with two suns?

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#1

Re: Jupiter's evolution

07/17/2017 9:12 AM

You'll find your answer in the details of this Wikipedia link on Brown Dwarf Stars.

The lowest mass limit for a Brown Dwarf is twice the mass of Jupiter (MJ). So as the below graph shows, for Jupiter to enter the lowest level of this class it would have to consume twice the mass of all of the rest of the planets in the solar system.

To reach the mass threshold to fuse deuterium requires 13 MJ. Lithium requires 65 MJ. (I expect in both of these brown fusion reactions that the process is more of an irregular pulse reaction instead of the continuous process of a full star.) Our sun in contrast is just over 1000 MJ. The threshold for sustained hydrogen to helium fusion is about 70+ MJ. (One must do some conversions from Solar masses to Jupiter masses, but that information is in the articles.)

However, a brown dwarf has much more heavy elements than a star or a gaseous giant planet like Jupiter. So now that our sun is blowing away the interstellar gas and the only hydrogen being added to Jupiter is the solar wind intersecting the capture gravity well cross section of Jupiter, I think a safe bet is that Jupiter will never reach the mass level needed to become a star.

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#2

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/17/2017 9:59 AM

Excuse me but I did not answer all of your other questions.

If Jupiter could begin fusing at or close to the mass it is at now it would not be anywhere near as bright as the sun. It would just be a brighter Jupiter in our night sky.

However if Jupiter starts fusing at a mass of 70 MJ then it would first have to some how accelerate to a much faster orbital speed or it will eventually fall into the sun. As this higher mass falls closer to us, our orbital path will be be disturbed as we get closer and farther away to this descending object. Unless Jupiter's death spiral path came close enough to swallowing us, the eccentricity of our elliptical orbit around the sun would likely become much more dramatic than it is now. It could easily become so severe that our inclination would no longer make the difference between summer and winter but our proximity to the sun would.

If instead the magic method of gradually adding 70+ Jupiters to its mass also includes a gradual speed increase so Jupiter follows the same orbital path then this much brighter Jupiter would still alter our orbit a little. I would expect this new star would be bright enough to be seen in a daylight sky but it would probably barely produce more illumination than a full moon.

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#8
In reply to #2

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/17/2017 2:44 PM

It's been a long time since I dabbled in orbital mechanics. I got it wrong that a 70 fold increase or any change in mass at Jupiter's orbit will require any change in angular velocity to remain stable. However if the other 69 MJ of mass came from a wandering "protostar" the trajectory of it might drag Jupiter towards the sun. Then my analysis will still be apt. It would be more probable this new super-Jupiter object will ultimately end up leaving the solar system with a whole lot of changed planet orbits and maybe even a few fractured planets.

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/17/2017 4:40 PM

Yes, that portends to be a really bad day in the neighborhood.

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#10
In reply to #2

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/17/2017 6:07 PM

It might improve the climate on the Jovian moons.

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#11
In reply to #2

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/17/2017 6:15 PM

Thanks! That explains a lot.I did not realize that Jupiter was that far from fusion.

You get a GA from me.

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#3

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/17/2017 10:35 AM

I think Redfred is correct about Jupiter needing to be twice its current size in order to sustain fusion. But I think that requires a detonation to get it started, the way a fusion (hydrogen) bomb works. For Jupiter to become a star on its own due to self-gravity like a normal star, it would need to be 10x its current mass. (This is what I remember from a book I read years ago.)

If Jupiter could be made twice as large and then detonated, the effect on the other planets would vary a lot from planet to planet. The effect on Mercury and Venus would be almost nil, I bet. The diurnal (day/night) cycle on Earth would vary a lot depending on where Jupiter was in its orbit with respect to Earth. Also, the seasons on the Earth would be altered dramatically.

Mars would be warmer when Jupiter was nearby, but it would lose what little atmosphere it still has. The asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter might undergo some changes due to Jupiter's larger mass; perhaps less stable, which might be a problem for Earth. The asteroids would become warmer and more interesting as a place to look for minerals.

The 3 gas outer planets would also get warmer and expand. Saturn might lose its rings.

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/17/2017 12:32 PM

OK, if the mysterious giant planet from the outer reaches of our Solar System (and this is still unconfirmed) were to somehow combine with Jupiter (without totally disrupting the orbits of the remaining planets, including our own), it would still fall short of fusion ignition by quite a large mass.

It ain't gonna happen. If it did, I suspect the seas of Enceladus would not boil away, due to the large average distance between Jupiter and Saturn.

Otherwise we could go to one of Jupiter's moon and hold a BBQ? Cabrito anyone?

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#13
In reply to #3

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/18/2017 5:02 AM

I'd just add that I believe that many, perhaps most stars are in binary systems, so any planets they have would see some interesting effects (depending obviously on the various distances). This could affect the possibility of life and its evolution.

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/18/2017 8:41 AM

On most of the binary star systems, any planets would have wild orbits, or be simply wiped out. If there were a planet to survive, and supposing that in only orbited the smaller of the two stars, and that its orbital radius was less than 10% of the binary interstellar distance, then that orbit might be mostly stable, but I would not begin to estimate the tides (water or lava?) when the planet is aligned with interstellar radius (between the stars)....again this depends on the masses involved, and the distances.

On such a planet, I would expect to find fire and ice like no where else known. Part of the time would be as though it were the 9th circle of hell, and most of the time, due to likely eccentric orbit, it would be colder than a well digger in Antarctica.

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/18/2017 9:26 AM

The fine details about what can or cannot exist in other planetary systems are barely known today. I admit that the kinematics of the planets in a multi-star system will be far more complicated than our single star system but clearly planets outside the orbit of the stars in a multi-star system would not be ripped apart from tidal and other(?) effects. I say this because the Kepler space telescope has already detected twenty one Circumbinary planets.

If any planets ever exist inside the orbits of a multi-star system I expect they will orbit one of the stars and that the separation and therefore the orbital periods of the stars would be very large.

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#17
In reply to #15

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/18/2017 9:49 AM

Well, hell, at least we can agree on that. Thanks for providing me with the term circumbinary. I was lying awake wondering how to phrase what I was attempting to say.

Yes, if the planets orbit about 10 radii out from the binary radius, maybe things could just be stable enough, but I would still expect some interesting tidal forces, as a result of the fluctuating gravitational pull.

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#18
In reply to #15

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/18/2017 9:50 AM

Given the nearly infinite numbers of stars in our known universe,it is likely that some planets of a binary system could have a figure 8 orbit,which would really complicate things even further,and if they indeed do exist,the math involved is up to us to figure out.

The universe simply discards the ones that do not work.

The unstable ones disappear,and the stable ones remain.

We will always be amazed at the things that are possible that we thought were not.

An infinite universe,pondered by a finite mind.

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#19
In reply to #15

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/18/2017 9:59 AM

That's what I was thinking. I don't know offhand typical distance between binary stars, but if it's >> a planet's orbital radius maybe there aren't too many weird effects.

As you no doubt know, the maximum number of bodies which can be shown mathematically will rotate around each other indefinitely is 2. Any more than 2 and there is a possibility that one might fly off out of the system at any time.

(drafted this before seeing #17 and #18)

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#21
In reply to #19

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/18/2017 4:22 PM

The only "closed" solution to the "three-body" problem is not really a solution at all, rather Perturbation theory is only an approximation where the more massive bodies are introduced first, then the little "perturbance" planet is added, but it can be done another way if the distances are such that the gravitational space-time is less dented by star B than star A, and the planet is nearer to star A.

Binary stars can and do have many difference orbital "solutions", from large to relatively short distances with really short periods.

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#22
In reply to #21

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/19/2017 9:28 AM

Agreed, if one of the bodies is much more massive than the others, the orbits are fairly stable. As is the case with our solar system, so we should be safe, for a billion or so years at least!

Not just binary stars, any orbiting bodies have an infinite number of possible solutions, distance vs mass, as you say, also eccentricity of the orbit.

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#4

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/17/2017 11:51 AM

And Arthur C. Clarke's ghost would smile and think "I told them so..."

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#6

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/17/2017 12:45 PM

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#7
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Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/17/2017 1:36 PM

...and then when you place these objects (on pedestals) at the correct distance from the sun (at the center), that mystery planet, even though about 2-3 times Earth radius at its distance is like seeing a flea on a dog's tail over a mile away.

There are probably more apt analogies than that, but it is the best I came up with at the time.

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#12
In reply to #7

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/18/2017 2:07 AM

Yeah Jupiter is a long way from Earth....further than the Sun is...in fact about 5 times as far...yeah it's way far....

https://www.space.com/30610-scale-of-solar-system-amazing-video.html

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#16
In reply to #12

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/18/2017 9:41 AM

I was referring to the mass being so far from critical enough to become a star,not physical distance.

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#20
In reply to #16

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/18/2017 10:43 AM

I was putting it in perspective if it was a star....

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#23

Re: Jupiter's Evolution

07/19/2017 11:57 AM

Interesting topic. I learned a number of things about the fusion or Jupiter and actually how far it is from that even taking place. Thanks for the post.

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