Thursday, November 26, 2020
Astronomy

Inquire Astro: Could Jupiter ever come to be a star?

Q: How a great deal much more substantial would Jupiter have to be to develop into a star fusing hydrogen to helium?

Bill Dellinges

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Apache Junction, Arizona

A: Jupiter is the most large planet in our solar system, weighing additional than 2 times as a lot as all the other planets merged. But it however falls considerably limited of the heft required to ignite nuclear fusion and become a star.

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Jupiter’s mass is about 4.17 x 1027 pounds (1.89 x 1027 kilograms) the Sun’s mass is about 4.27 x 1030 kilos (1.98 x 1030 kg), or about 1,048 occasions the mass of Jupiter. An alternate way of expressing this is Jupiter weighs fewer than .1 per cent the Sun’s mass. According to surveys, stars with about 1-quarter — or 25 % — the Sun’s mass are the most popular. That mass is nonetheless virtually 262 instances Jupiter’s.&#13

Smaller sized stars do exist: Primarily based on the warmth and strain demanded for nuclear fusion in a star’s main, astronomers believe that the cutoff for the smallest stars might be all over .08 times the mass of the Sunshine. Which is nonetheless approximately 83 to 85 situations Jupiter’s mass. In point, the smallest star discovered to date, EBLM J0555-57Ab, weighs in at about 85 situations the mass of Jupiter. 

So, Jupiter would want yet another 83 to 85 situations its mass prior to it could get started fusing hydrogen into helium. Nonetheless, if you piled just 13 or so far more Jupiters on to the fuel huge, its new mass may possibly be adequate to ignite deuterium fusion. (Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen.) This wouldn’t make Jupiter a star, but it would make it a brown dwarf. These substellar objects fuse deuterium into hydrogen-3, one more isotope of hydrogen. Brown dwarfs are considered neither stars nor planets, and in its place occupy a gray area concerning the two.

Alison Klesman

Senior Affiliate Editor

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