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Liquid Metallic Hydrogen

Liquid metallic hydrogen, which the planets Jupiter and Saturn are made of, is not an earthly substance. Even so, we might be able to get an idea of what it is from another substance, Mercury.

As shown in this picture, the element Mercury, at room temperature and at surface pressure, is a metallic liquid.

At temperatures and pressures within the giant planets, 10,000 degrees and thousands of times the pressure at sea level, the element hydrogen, which is normally a gas, becomes a metallic liquid. (It changes phase from a gas to a liquid).

Since the environment within a giant planet, of thousands of degrees in temperature, and extreme pressures, cannot be duplicated at earth at all, we may never be able to see liquid metallic hydrogen. But it may look very much like Mercury does in this picture.


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The Liquid Hydrogen Layer

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The Magnetic Poles of Uranus

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The aurora we are most familiar with is the polar aurora. This is what people are referring to when they speak of the northern or southern lights. But there are other less-known auroral activity, such...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF