Understanding Jupiter's interior

Burkhard Militzer, François Soubiran, Sean M. Wahl, William Hubbard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


This article provides an overview of how models of giant planet interiors are constructed. We review measurements from past space missions that provided constraints for the interior structure of Jupiter. We discuss typical three-layer interior models that consist of a dense central core and an inner metallic and an outer molecular hydrogen-helium layer. These models rely heavily on experiments, analytical theory, and first-principles computer simulations of hydrogen and helium to understand their behavior up to the extreme pressures ∼10 Mbar and temperatures ∼10,000 K. We review the various equations of state used in Jupiter models and compare them with shock wave experiments. We discuss the possibility that helium rain, core erosion, and double diffusive convection have affected the structure and evolution of giant planets. In July 2016 the Juno spacecraft entered orbit around Jupiter, promising high-precision measurements of the gravitational field that will allow us to test our understanding of gas giant interiors better than ever before.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1552-1572
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Jupiter
  • ab initio computer simulation
  • giant planet interiors
  • hydrogen-helium mixtures
  • shock wave experiments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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