Intrinsic luminosities of the Jovian planets

W. B. Hubbard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


We review available data and theories on the size and nature of interior power sources in the Jovian planets. Broad band infrared measurements indicate that Jupiter and Saturn have interior heat fluxes about 150 and 50 times larger, respectively, than the terrestrial value. While Neptune has a modest heat flux (∼5 times terrestrial), it is clearly detected by earth‐based measurements. Only Uranus seems to lack a detectable interior heat flow. Various models, ranging from simple cooling to gravitational layering to radioactivity, are discussed. Current evidence seems to favor a cooling model in which the escape of heat is regulated by the atmosphere. This model seems capable of explaining phenomena such as the uniformity of effective temperature over Jupiter's surface and the different emission rates of Uranus and Neptune. In such a model the heat radiated from the atmosphere may derive from depletion of a thermal reservoir in the interior, or it may derive from separation of chemical elements during formation of a core. Calculations indicate that in the earlier stages of cooling, Jupiter and Saturn may have more homogeneous abundances of hydrogen and helium and radiate energy derived from simple cooling. At a subsequent phase (which may be later than the present time), hydrogen and helium will separate and supply gravitational energy. Either model is consistent with a hot, high‐luminosity origin for the Jovian planets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalReviews of Geophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1980

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics


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