Metallic hydrogen

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Phobos
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Joined: Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:54 pm

Metallic hydrogen

Post by Phobos » Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:41 pm

Hi, this might be a stupid question. I've been reading about Jupiter and the fact that its atmosphere contains metallic hydrogen. Could this type of hydrogen exist on the Sun too?

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lisa
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Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:28 pm

Re: Metallic hydrogen

Post by lisa » Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:43 pm

Hi Phobos!

Not at all, thanks for the interesting questions!

The short answer is probably not in significant quantities. The reason is that metallic hydrogen is a molecule. Most of the Sun is so hot that molecules are unable to form. In fact, it is so hot that almost all of the atoms have been completely ionized, i.e. the electrons are stripped from the protons forming a plasma. That being said, there are places on the Sun that are slightly cooler (e.g Sunspots) where molecules can form. In fact there is even evidence of water molecules (H2O) on the sun, see this link for more information http://solar-center.stanford.edu/FAQ/Qwateronsun.html.

However, another thing to note, is that one of the things that make Metallic hydrogen so interesting is that it is highly conductive. Since the Sun is so hot that the atoms have been ionized, forming a plasma, the electrons and protons are free to move separately. This means that the Sun (and plasma in general) also has a high electrical conductivity.

All the best,
-Lisa

Phobos
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:54 pm

Re: Metallic hydrogen

Post by Phobos » Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:38 am

Thanks Lisa! That's really interesting about there being water on the Sun!

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