What Is the Jovian Problem?

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  • 0:01 The Core Accretion Model
  • 1:22 The Jovian Problem
  • 2:56 The Disk Instability Model
  • 4:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson goes over the two ways the Jovian planets may have formed, called the core accretion model and disk instability model, as well as the Jovian problem and which model solves it.

The Core Accretion Model

Time Travel Team: Houston, we have a problem! Our calculations show us that our solar system's early gas and dust, the material from which our solar system's planets formed, may not have lasted long enough for the Jovian planets- the gas giants, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune - to take shape under the core accretion model. Over!

Base: Umm. What is the core accretion model again, guys?

Time Travel Team: Aren't you guys supposed to be the braniacs over there? The core accretion model can be simplified to this: it is a model for the formation of the Jovian planets, one that posits that they formed when gas from the solar nebula was gravitationally attracted around a previously formed solid core.

Yet, here they are in front of our very eyes, completely formed before the protoplanetary disk from which they formed has even disappeared! How can this be the case when under the core accretion model, it would've likely taken these planets a long time to form, so long that the gas and dust necessary for their formation would've disappeared already!? Over!

The Jovian Problem

Base: Oh yeah, that's what that model is! Hmm. I guess we have a Jovian problem on our hands team. We've been afraid of this for years. This is the puzzling notion that the Jovian-like planets are common despite the possibility that the gas and the dust involved in their formation may not have lasted long enough for them to form under the core accretion model.

Time Travel Team: That is indeed a problem. Uh, so, should we just come back home now? It's kind of scary over here in the early solar system.

Base: Nah. So long as you guys have enough freeze-dried carrot sticks to eat, we'll need you to stick around and perform some calculations for us as we seek to revise the standard solar nebular theory a bit, given what you've told us.

Time Travel Team: Great.

Base: I need you guys to multiply AJB by 007 on your computers over there.

Time Travel Team: That's it? That'll be enough to solve the problem?

Base: I don't know, but hopefully, it won't kill you to do it for us.

Time Travel Team: Yeah, ditto. OK, then. We're transmitting the results back to you.

The Disk Instability Model

Base: Good job, team. Here's what the calculation have revealed. It seems that the rotating gas and dust of the solar nebula may have actually become unstable and formed the Jovian planets by way of direct collapse!

Time Travel Team: Uh, English, please!

Base: I am speaking English.

Time Travel Team: Not the kind we understand over here!

Base: Fine. Direct collapse is the process by which a developing Jovian planet skips the formation of a solid core and instead forms more quickly and directly from the gases of the solar nebula.

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