2
$\begingroup$

We all know that the core of Earth is in liquid form, as are most other planets as recently read. Why is this the case? Obviously, high temperatures are the cause, but what causes the high temperatures?

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetary_core $\endgroup$ – user83548 Nov 19 '15 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ Indeed the core core of Earth is solid. And for small telluric objects (e.g. the Moon) the interior is totally solidified. $\endgroup$ – Fabrice NEYRET Nov 19 '15 at 23:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Effective duplicate: physics.stackexchange.com/q/66169 Thought the best answer to the several similar questions is (IMHO, of course): physics.stackexchange.com/a/154514. $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Nov 20 '15 at 0:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @FabriceNEYRET - Contrary to pop sci nonsense, the Moon's core almost certainly is not totally solidified (nor is Mars' for that matter). The Moon's observed $k_2$ Love number is too high for a solid object made of anything short of some weird species of unobtanium; the same goes for Mars. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Nov 20 '15 at 5:46
  • $\begingroup$ @dmckee - Thanks! I spent a good deal of time researching that answer, a lot more time compared to the paltry number of points I received for that answer. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Nov 20 '15 at 5:50
2
$\begingroup$

The central core of the Earth is not thought to be liquid, but there is a liquid layer surrounding it.

When you form a planet it involves taking material effectively from infinity and bringing it together into a deep gravitational well. You can think of things being gravitationally pulled together and their kinetic energy upon imact being converted into heat and radiation. There is therefore a large amount of gravitational potential energy which was partly radiated and partly used to make the material hot.

Subsequent to its formation, a large amount of heat in the Earth's interior is due to the radioactive decay of various isotopes in the crust and mantle - mainly uranium, thorium and potassium.

The exact balance between the two heat sources is still uncertain, but both are significant contributors.

| cite | improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Well actually the Earth's inner core is solid. Only the outer core is liquid iron and nickel. Now for the question what causes the high temperature, well one of the contributers is the heat that was produced by collisions and gravitational interactions during Earth's formation. Also the breakdown of heavy nuclei into lighter ones prouduces some energy to heat up Earth's core. Also some amounts of friction heat up the Earth's core to this day.

| cite | improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.