I have been trying to visualize how a gas giant like Jupiter originally formed. I am assuming that in its early stages it formed by aggregation similar to how the rocky inner planets were with an abundance of heavy elements found in roughly the same proportions as earth's. I am further assuming that as Jupiter amassed far more material than its rocky neighbors, the resulting pressures, temperatures and tidal forces increased to such a degree that a fundamental change began to occur where the heavy elements were being broken down into lighter ones on the periodic table. What sequence of events would take place such that a heavy element like gold, lead or iron would be reduced to hydrogen and helium such as is reported to be the primary elemental makeup of Jupiter.

As a thought experiment, I have been trying to visualize what would happen to a huge asteroid, a moon, or say the earth itself if it were to collide with such a gas giant. Would all the heavier elements be reduced to one of these two elements as the bulk of the earth's mass began to settle into Jupiter's core region?

  • $\begingroup$ Related to aside: physics.stackexchange.com/q/145237/25301 $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Apr 23 '19 at 13:24
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    $\begingroup$ Why do you assume the heavy elements are broken down? This is not believed to happen. $\endgroup$ – Anders Sandberg Apr 23 '19 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the quick comeback Anders. You know what they say about the word Assume.... :-). still, I assumed it because of what I have seen in videos and online that Jupiter doesn't appear to have a core although i understand there is a theory that there may be one comprised of metallic hydrogen. If all the heavy elements are still there, where? Broken up into a molecular soup and suspended in the atmospheric layers as trace elements in the same manner as other elements such as water vapor detected by Galileo's atmospheric probe? $\endgroup$ – mpollock Apr 24 '19 at 1:22

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