Inversion of gravity data for giant planets

W. B. Hubbard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


We derive approximate inversion formulas which permit the calculation of the density on an interior level surface of a rotating planet from observed values of J2, J4, and J6, given that the planet is in hydrostatic equilibrium and that the density near the surface varies smoothly with depth. The method gives information about a level surface which is, respectively, about 3000 km (Jupiter), 3600 km (Saturn), 1000 km (Uranus), and 500 km (Neptune) below the mean surface of the planet. The value of J4 gives the density gradient on this surface, while J6 depends on the second derivative of the density with depth as well. However, J6 serves primarily as a check on the inversion model since its value is mainly determined by J4. We discuss the application of the method in determining abundances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-165
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1974
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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