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Giant Planet Seismology


Campus Paris-Rive-Gauche


Séminaires Planétologie et Sciences Spatiales

522, bât. Lamarck

Patrick Gaulme

New Mexico State University, Department of Astronomy

Seismology applied to giant planets could drastically change our understanding of their deep interiors, as it has happened with the Earth, the Sun, and many main-sequence and evolved stars. The study of giant planets' composition is important for understanding both the mechanisms enabling their formation and the origins of planetary systems, in particular our own. Unfortunately, its determination is complicated by the fact that their interior is thought not to be homogeneous, so that spectroscopic determinations of atmospheric abundances are probably not representative of the planet as a whole. Instead, the determination of their composition and structure must rely on indirect measurements and interior models. Giant planets are mostly fluid and convective, which makes their seismology much closer to that of solar-like stars than that of terrestrial planets. Hence, helioseismology techniques naturally transfer to giant planets. The current decade has been promising thanks to t he detection of Jupiter's acoustic oscillations with the ground-based imaging-spectrometer SYMPA and indirect detection of Saturn's f-modes in its rings by the NASA Cassini orbiter. This has motivated new projects of ground-based and space-borne instruments that are under development. I will review the key questions about jovian interiors as well as the most recent observational results and instrumental projects.