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Open letter to science editors
Stability of Solid Core Cores in Gaseous Planets
ERIC W. CREW Fall 1977
If an imaginary planet made of uniform material has a diametrical hole through
it and the weight of an object is measured at various points along the hole,
the weight will decrease with distance below the surface of the planet until
it becomes zero at the center. This happens because the gravitational pull
of the shell of material above any level inside the body sums to zero, and
all the pull towards the center is due to the mass of the sphere of material
below that level. In this hypothetical model the mass of this inner sphere
is proportional to the cube of its radius, while the gravitational pull at
its “surface" is proportional to the inverse square of its radius; so the
weight of any object will vary directly with its distance from the center.
is of interest to note that this does not apply to a terrestrial mineshaft
because the core of the Earth is much more dense than the outer layers, and
weight actually increases slightly with depth at first.
an object is exactly at the center of the imaginary planet, the smallest
force will accelerate it in the direction of the force; then, as it moves,
there will be a gradually increasing gravitational pull tending to return it
to its central position.
Taking this a stage further, if the imaginary planet consisted of a solid
shell and a solid core, all the rest of the interior space being a vacuum,
the core could remain, in theory, at any location inside the shell, since
the sum of the gravitational pull of the material of the shell acting on the
core would be zero (like the zero electrical forces inside a Faraday cage).
If the shell and core in combination form a planet in orbit about a star,
with the core initially in the center of the shell, as soon as the latter
encounters some frictional resistance to its orbital motion, it will
decelerate slightly, and the core will then move away from its central
position due to the inertia of its mass, eventually colliding with the
interior surface of the shell. If the core and shell were in rotation about
their common center, as with most planets, then there would be relative
linear motion at the point of contact, and frictional heat energy would be
purpose of this simple theoretical model is to show that in the case of a
large gaseous planet with a solid core, it should not be assumed that the
core will always remain at the center of the planet. The situation can be
visualized by suspending a weight from a string in a bucket of water and
mounting the whole of the apparatus on a turntable. When it is rotated, the
slightest displacement of the weight will cause it to behave like a conical
pendulum in which the string makes an angle to the vertical given by cos θ=g/lw2,
where 1 is the length of the string, w is the angular velocity, and g
is the acceleration due to gravity. The water surrounding the weight tends
to reduce the speed and amount of the displacement, and if the weight is
free to rotate independently about its vertical axis, it will eventually
attain the same angular velocity as the apparatus, irrespective of its
A solid core surrounded by fluid in a planet may therefore tend to drift away
from the central location when the planet as a whole encounters some
external resistance to its motion in stellar orbit.(1) Certain other
factors causing displacement of the core are probably far more important and
will be discussed later.
As the core moves away from the center of the planet, matter will flow
into the space it formerly occupied, and the mass of this material will
produce a small gravitational force tending to restore the central
position of the core. Possibly such effects would be detectable in
slight wobblings of the planet as a whole, since its center of mass
would be disturbed. Any displacement of the core will produce a
centrifugal force away from the axis of the combined rotation, and
unless the restoring force is greater than this the core will continue
to travel outwards until the forces balance, if an equilibrium condition
is to be attained.
This brief introduction is the basis for a closer look at a particular
example, Jupiter, where there seems to be considerable evidence that its
core, or a part of it, was ejected into an independent solar orbit,
becoming the planet Venus. There are many obvious problems arising from
this claim, but these are negligible compared with the problems of
devising alternative, satisfactory explanations for the vast mass of
evidence about cosmic catastrophes in historical times which has been
collected and published in the works of Velikovsky, who is now so
well-known and respected by serious students of astronomy that there is
no need to quote his books in detail.
If the solid core of Jupiter was, in fact, ejected, it probably emerged
as an incandescent body and remained abnormally hot for a considerable
time. The present high temperature of Venus is claimed by some
astronomers to be caused by the "greenhouse" effect of solar heating,
but this is disputed by many others. If the high temperature of Venus
today is mainly due to remanent internal heat, then the rate of cooling
to be expected, especially considering an originally much higher
temperature, means that it must have been ejected from Jupiter
comparatively recently - perhaps less than ten thousand years ago - as
is supported by evidence from mythology. It then follows that one might
expect to see, even now, visible evidence on Jupiter of such a violent
There would have been extensive chemical reactions with the gaseous
outer regions of the planet as the core emerged, and there would have
been a trail of residues of various kinds, polluting the atmosphere and
leaving a scar which may still be visible. A significant comment in
relation to this view was made recently by an authority on planetary
atmospheres(2) who wrote that "on Jupiter, a steady-state storm is
possible. . . . The Great Red Spot may also fit into this picture. It
is difficult at this stage to account for its uniqueness, which may be
associated with some unseen surface irregularity or the result of a
chance capture of a planetary body." This is evidently a wild guess, in
keeping with the many other unsatisfactory explanations offered by
astronomers when they do not conform to the usual view that the Great
Red Spot is a complete mystery.
It seems much more likely that the Great Red Spot is the site, not of
the capture of some unknown planetary body, but of the ejection of an
incandescent core to become a planet, especially as it happens that
Venus would fit comfortably into the width of the Great Red Spot.(3)
There are other much smaller Red Spots as well, and perhaps
Venus 12,100 km diameter
Great Red Spot of Jupiter
40,000 km x 13,000 km
these are the sites of falling debris from the ejected core, or
secondary ejection sites. It has been suggested that some comets may
have been formed by electrical discharges in the extensive atmosphere of
Jupiter, (4) but these would be relatively small and largely gaseous
objects, and only the ejection of core materials could account for a
body the size and weight of Venus. The suggestion that some kind of
vast explosion of the core took place(s) is as difficult to
substantiate in detail as to account for the pieces subsequently coming
together again and forming a planet such as Venus, travelling in an
independent solar orbit.
Another factor supporting core-ejection is that the initial rotation of
the Jovian core could have been reduced or stopped by frictional
resistance on its long journey from the center of Jupiter, and the
anomalous, low-speed rotation of Venus has not been satisfactorily
explained in any other way.
There are widely differing views among astronomers about the existence
and size of a solid core in Jupiter, but as the original matter from
which the planet formed probably contained 2% or 3% of heavy elements,
as in the case of the Sun and most other stars, these materials would be
likely to have gradually accumulated at the center of Jupiter. In
addition, such a large planet would act as a cosmic vacuum cleaner,
sweeping up dust and debris, which would also work its way into the
interior and help to build the core. The high pressure would liquefy
and then solidify many gases, but the slowly increasing central
temperatures may have limited this process.(6) An estimate that "Jupiter
may have a solid core 40 times as massive as Earth" was recently quoted
by a very sober astronomer-(7) and Juergens has estimated a rocky core
of sufficient mean density to yield 100 planets the size of Venus, not
even counting "wasted" matter. (8)
Of course, if Venus was ejected from Jupiter a few thousand years ago,
Jupiter may now be in the process of building up a new massive core.
Many thousands or millions of years may elapse, however, before such a
new core acquires sufficient energy to eject itself from the planet.
It may be of interest to note a further comment about the cores of
gaseous planets from ref. 7. Mitton writes: "Although we can observe
the atmosphere of the giant planets, the mysteries of their internal
structure will yield only to theory and model making . . . Recently M.
Podolak and A.G.W. Cameron, two planetary scientists working in New
York, have assembled a new range of models to describe the structure of
the outer planets. One common feature is that each planet is thought to
contain a rocky central core. This has formed from metallic and
silicate crystals that condensed in the interstellar cloud from which
our solar system originally rose. In the case of the terrestrial
planets this rocky body is all that now remains, solar heating having
driven away the lighter gases. Jupiter may have a solid core 40 times
as massive as Earth. For Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune the cores are
about 20, 4 and 3.7 times the Earth's mass."
The problem of explaining how a body as large as Venus could change its
path in a comparatively short time from an erratic and highly dangerous
one to the present safe and almost circular orbit about the Sun was
initially discussed in Worlds in Collision. (9) Since then, it
has been dealt with in other serious studies,(10) one of which also
casts doubt on the conventional views of the claimed stability for
billions of years of the planets and satellites of the Solar System.(11)
The question of the energy required for the ejection of Venus from
Jupiter has also been the subject of dispute, and Sagan estimated that
as much as 1041 ergs would be required to attain escape
velocity, using this high figure to "prove" that such an event would be
impossible.(12) The figure represents the kinetic energy of Venus
travelling at 61 km/s, but it does not allow for the fact that the
surface velocity due to the rotation of the periphery of Jupiter near
its equator is presently about 13 km/s, and this may assist the ejection
process in favorable circumstances.(13) Also, as it is not necessary
for an ejected body to attain the theoretical velocity of escape to
infinity in order to achieve a solar orbit, a further reduction of about
25% of the theoretical velocity would be acceptable. As described
later, it is possible that one source of energy continued to propel the
ejected core after it left the surface, and in addition some outward
force may have been provided by electrical repulsion.
A reasonable estimate for the required velocity relative to the surface
is 15-20 km/s, and the corresponding kinetic energy of a body of the
mass of Venus would be 6 x 1039 to 1040 ergs.
Some additional energy would be required to propel the core to the
surface and through the extensive atmosphere of Jupiter, so we must look
for at least 1040 ergs of energy if the core-ejection
hypothesis is to be sustained.
The core possesses several forms of energy which may help to propel it
from the center. It rotates with the planet, and if it is displaced
from the center the rotation will produce frictional heat, adding to its
own store of thermal and latent heat. The pressure at the center of
Jupiter is estimated as about 30 million atmospheres(14) or more(6) so
that a considerable amount of energy, accumulated in the processes of
compressing, liquefying, and solidifying hydrogen and other gases, would
be released as the core travelled into regions of lower pressure. The
temperature of the core of a gaseous planet rises steadily because of
gravitational consolidation energy release and the small amounts of
nuclear fission energy available from radioactive elements. It seems
most unlikely that the temperature and pressure in the interior of
Jupiter would rise high enough to produce nuclear fusion for many
billions of years, or that a recent violent nuclear “explosion" with
enough energy to have ejected the core of the planet has occurred.
The suggested start of the process of core-ejection is a sudden change
in the core at a critical point of pressure and temperature, either of a
physical or a chemical nature. A large proportion of the substance of
the core may shrink appreciably, the angular velocity of the core
rapidly increasing, while surrounding fluids flow inward to prevent the
formation of a void. The disturbance and frictional heating eventually
lead to a local eruption from the surface of the solid core, causing an
initial displacement from the center. The core moves erratically at
first, as its rotation changes the position of the eruption on account
of coriolis and gyroscopic effects, but it progresses steadily or
spirally into the less dense, outer regions of the planet as long as the
eruption continues; that is, it moves in directions offering least
resistance to its movement.
The diminishing pressure of the surrounding fluid as the core travels
away from the center enables the compressed gases in the core to
continue to expand and sustain the eruption.
The high temperature of the core decreases as it gives up energy to the
surrounding material and converts it into kinetic energy of the core,
but the material remains hot enough to provide a powerful propulsive
force like that of a rocket engine. The continual ejection of material
from the core steadily reduces its mass, tending to increase its
It is most likely that frictional processes would also produce
appreciable electrical charging, and that the charge would flow to the
surface of the planet and leak away, leaving both core and surface with
a charge of the same sign at the point of separation from the surface,
causing subsequent repulsion and aiding the ejection. Discharges of
current might also take place to equalize potentials; evidence from
mythology suggests such spectacular events on Jupiter in the past, as
well as during near-encounters of Venus with other planets.
Estimates can be made of the energy values of some of these items. If
the core is assumed to have been originally about twice the diameter of
Venus, and therefore 8 or more times its present mass (a much lower
estimate than that in ref. 7), and was rotating at the present angular
velocity of Jupiter,
its rotational energy would have been 3.5 x 1038 ergs - an
insignificant amount compared with the total required for ejection, but
more than adequate for a triggering effect. The amount of heat energy
liberated if the temperature of the core fell by 10,000K would be 3.3 x
1039 ergs, assuming a specific heat of 0.2. The most recent
estimate(15) of Jupiter's temperature, however, is 300,000K, giving a
value for the heat energy of about 1041 ergs, which is
several times the amount estimated for ejection.
The energy stored as latent heat and in the highly compressed core
materials, largely representing stored gravitational energy from the
enormous mass of the whole planet, is also very considerable at the
levels of pressure and temperature involved. No attempt has been made
to assess these values, nor the equally difficult problem of the
possible values of electrical forces and energy. However, there seems
little doubt that there would be enough energy in total to make it
extremely probable that the core of Jupiter was ejected, and the same
applies to the cores of Saturn and other gaseous planets.
The suggestion that the solid cores of gaseous planets may be ejected
periodically, sometimes achieving independent orbits about the parent
star, may solve a very important, long-standing problem in Solar System
astronomy: that of the origin of the dense, "terrestrial" planets and
satellites. The large gaseous planets would have the volumes and masses
to attract and retain enough heavy cosmic materials to form large cores
in much shorter times than would be required for the same masses of
solid material to accumulate without this assistance. It seems likely
that many cores may have been ejected from gaseous planets in the Solar
System into orbits in which some were destroyed by too-near approaches
to the Sun, and that at least one may have collided with a former dense
planet to produce the asteroid belt.(16)
NOTES AND REFERENCES
1. Normally this resistance is negligible, but it is possible
that at a certain time the presence of cosmic dust, excessive numbers of
meteorites, powerful electrical and magnetic forces, or other external
interference may have changed this stable position. Velikovsky has
suggested that an explosion in Saturn may have been the cause of the
later ejection of Venus from Jupiter, but the detailed discussion of
this is outside the scope of this paper.
2. G.E. Hunt, "Jupiter," New Science in the Solar System,
P. Stubbs, ed., (IPC Magazines, London, 1975, pp. 42-50). Cp.
Pensee I (May, 1972), p. 23.
3. See Pensee II (Fall, 1972), p. 46 - letter to the
Editor from Ragnar Forshufvud.
4. E.W. Crew, "Problems of Electricity in Astronomy," SIS
Review (Jan., 1976), pp. 8-9.
5. R. Forshufvud, "The Jupiter Puzzle," SIS Review
(Spring, 1976), pp. 21-24.
6. Z. Kopal, in The Solar System (Oxford Univ. Press,
1972, p. 1 1), states: "the pressure at the centre of Jupiter would be
expected to exceed 1013N/m2,, (100 minion atmospheres - over
3 times the value given in ref. 14). He continues: "Under the pressures
prevailing in the Jovian or Saturnian interiors, hydrogen Can remain in
the solid (metallic) state up to temperatures near 7500K, but no higher;
this is probably the limit which their external temperature cannot
exceed." Kopal does not say what would happen when heat continues to be
generated in the interior of the planet, as it would, but he seems to
imply the possibility of an explosive or disturbed condition.
7. S. Mitton, "Saturn and Beyond," New Science in the Solar
System, pp. 50-51.
8. R.E. Juergens, "The 'Bulk Chemistries' of Venus and Jupiter,"
KRONOS II, 1 (August, 1976), p. 12 - "In the 1920's, Harold
Jeffreys calculated that Jupiter might have a rocky core of some 400
Venus-masses." - Ibid.
9. I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision (N.Y., 1950), pp.
384-385, 371; also Yale Scientific Magazine (April, 1967), p. 15.
10. See the articles authored and co-authored by Chris S.
Sherrerd, Lynn E. Rose, Raymond
C. Vaughan, C.J. Ransom, and L.H. Hoffee in Velikovsky Reconsidered
(N.Y. and London, 1976), Part 111. See also A. Hamilton, "The
Circularisation of Planetary Orbits," SIS Review 1:4 (Spring, 19
77), pp. I 1-1 3.
11. C.J. Ransom, "How Stable is the Solar System?" Ibid.;
also see Robert W. Bass, " 'Proofs' of the Stability of the Solar
System," Pensee VIII (Summer, 1974), pp. 21-26; Idem, KRONOS
II, 2 (Nov., 1976), pp. 27-45; R.W. Bass, "Did Worlds Collide?"
Pensee VIII, pp. 9-20; R.W. Bass, "Can Worlds Collide?" KRONOS 1,
3 (Fall, 1975), pp. 59-71.
12. Pensee VII (Spring, 1974), p. 37. Sagan's statement
was made at the San Francisco meeting of February 25, 1974, reported in
Pensee. He also argued that at least 10% of this energy would go
into heating the ejected body. No scientific reason for this statement
was offered, and in fact energy almost certainly would have been
obtained from the ejected body by cooling, as described in this paper.
13. If Venus was ejected from Jupiter, then the rotational speed
for the latter body was most likely even greater, prior to ejection,
than it is today. See YSM, op. cit, p. 14 and C.J. Ransom,
The Age of Velikovsky (Fort Worth and Glassboro, 19 76), p. 108.
14. This information is included in the comprehensive article on
Jupiter in the Encyclopedia Britannica. For example, the
escape velocity is specified as 61 km/s (agreeing with other reference
books), and the size of the Great Red Spot is given as 40,000 km x
13,000 km. (The diameter of Venus is 12,100 kin.) The article states
that the interior pressure in Jupiter would cause matter to be ionized.
I take this to mean that outer electrons of atoms would be "squeezed
out" and would then migrate to the surface of Jupiter, possibly aided by
frictional charging effects. Most of the free electrons would be
neutralized by positively charged cosmic-ray particles, and some would
leak away by attachment to small particles in the atmosphere, which
would be repelled from the planet. The core would thus acquire a
massive positive charge, and in its subsequent near-encounters with
other cosmic bodies extensive discharges would take place.
15. This is based on a Tass report about a meeting of astronomers in
Russia on June 9, 1977, which was briefly reported in some English
newspapers the following day. For instance, the Daily Telegraph of
June 10 stated that "Jupiter is gradually turning into a second Sun and,
barring human interference, will blaze out as a star in about 3,000 million
years . . ." The report in the Guardian stated: "Far from dying,
[Jupiter] is in a state of flaring up. Temperature in the centre of the
planet reaches probably 300,000 degrees on the Calvin scale and continues
growing." The Guardian published a letter the next day headed "Hot
property" and stating: "I daresay Calvin did preach 'fire and brimstone' but
you meant to express the temperature of Jupiter in degrees on the Kelvin scale."
16. It is generally thought that the total mass of the asteroid belt
is too small to support the idea that it arose from the breakup of a planet,
but the following press report (No. 16178 dated June 23, 1975) from the
Novosti Information Service disputes this: "Professor Elena Guskova of
Leriingrad has calculated the dimensions and mass of the hypothetical planet
Phaeton which once revolved round the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. Basing
herself on the study of the magnetic properties of meteorites, she proved
that the 'lost' planet was somewhat smaller than the earth, but was hundreds
of times bigger than the moon.
"Phaeton, as most astronomers believe, was destroyed in a space
catastrophe. It split as a result of an internal explosion or celestial
collision and formed a belt of socalled small planets - asteroids and a
multitude of meteorite flows.
"After studying over a thousand samples of meteorites from Soviet and
foreign collections, Professor Guskova noted that among the multitude of
insignificantly small magnetic fields, one always had the same magnitude and
direction. Professor Guskova considers this common magnetic, with a force
of 0.2 oersteds, to be a residue of Phaeton's magnetic field."
The use of the present angular velocity figure is basically a
calculation convenience. "The conservation of angular momentum
requires that Jupiter slowed in its rotation upon ejecting Venus;
therefore.... it would be improper to calculate the conditions for
escape on the basis of the present (resultant) angular momentum or
speed of rotation of Jupiter." see Yale Scientific Magazine
(April, 1967), p. 14. - The Ed.