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Understanding Giant Planets

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Steven Brereton.

Planets are common astronomical objects. Gas giant planets, which are massive planets made of mostly hydrogen and helium, are the first planets to form, and due to their large masses they affect the dynamical evolution of young planetary systems. In addition, giant planet composition reveals key information on the birth environment of planets.

In this talk I will briefly summarise giant planet formation, evolution, and interior models. I will show that giant planets are complex objects that can have composition gradients and fuzzy cores, and that their internal structure and evolution depend on their growth history.

I will also present new structure models of Jupiter that fit the planet’s gravity data as measured by the NASA Juno mission, and explain how they reveal information on Jupiter’s origin and evolution.

Finally, I will discuss the connection between recent developments in giant planet theory and high-pressure physics as well as the characterisation of giant planets around other stars.

This talk is part of the The Kavli Lectures series.

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