I've been trying to find out exactly where the layers of molecular hydrogen, and metallic hydrogen are precisely, inside Jupiter, in kilometres from the centre. Ideally with an error margin of 1-10kms. I'm a newbie at astronomy, physics, and chemistry, so the more detailed the explanation, the better.

How have we gone about guessing, what factors are used to do so? What is the most recent data?

EDIT: try not to quote me easily accessible vague research, I've already done google searches! Thank you :)

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    $\begingroup$ Why do you seek or expect such precision over an almost 70,000 km radius? $\endgroup$
    – J.G.
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ It's for a personal project! I'm mapping a series of reflections on the planet's surface, but it involves an inner surface! I need to know relatively precisely, the distance from the sun to Jupiter's inner layer. It's to observe how those hypothetical reflections would disturb the atmosphere that we do see. I'm relatively new to math and physics, but always considered science precise enough that when it came to understanding subatomic particles, we would know precisely the effect pressure would have on them, and always assumed I was the one that didn't know what those tools were. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 23:15
  • $\begingroup$ Ah. Well, sometimes large relative errors in one variable, e.g. how much of a chemical species is present, limit our precision. This is one example (perhaps less applicable to Jupiter) of why gas giants are difficult. $\endgroup$
    – J.G.
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 8:44
  • $\begingroup$ @J.G. Okay! This makes sense. Hadn't thought of that. Makes us wonder, huh, we know so much, yet so little at the same time. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 2, 2021 at 9:16

2 Answers 2


You are not going to find anything approaching a precision of 1 to 10 km. I doubt we could even map the deep mantle of the Earth with that precision, let alone Jupiter.

This Wikipedia article summarises what is known about the internal structure of Jupiter, with links to references. We think there is a diffuse core occupying $30\%$ to $50\%$ of the planet’s radius, surrounded by a layer of liquid metallic hydrogen mixed with helium extending to about $80\%$ of the planet’s radius. Above this there will be a mixture of molecular hydrogen, helium, and other elements, but I doubt there is much separation into distinct stable layers, since we know that the atmosphere of Jupiter is very active.

  • $\begingroup$ @Kieran It's really hard to know what's going on in Jupiter's interior. We can make models, but we need more actual data from the interior, and that's difficult to obtain. FWIW, my answer astronomy.stackexchange.com/a/35069/16685 links to a paper in Nature which speculates on the structure of Jupiter's core, based on gravimetric data gathered by the Juno probe. Hopefully, future Jupiter missions will give us more data, but the technical challenges of building a probe that can survive the conditions deep in Jupiter's atmosphere & transmit back useful data are formidable. $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Kieran Another relatively question on Jovian structure with a whole bunch of links to journal articles (and some popular sites): astronomy.stackexchange.com/q/35579/16685 There's also a discussion somewhere on Astronomy.SE about the difficulties of deep Jupiter probes, but it's probably in comments, which are hard to search. $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 14:01

Here is an excellent article on the topic:

Burkhard Militzer, Francois Soubiran, Sean M. Wahl, William Hubbard, "Understanding Jupiter's Interior"

This article provides an overview of how models of giant planet interiors are constructed. We review measurements from past space missions that provide constraints for the interior structure of Jupiter. We discuss typical three-layer interior models that consist of a dense central core and an inner metallic and an outer molecular hydrogen-helium layer. These models rely heavily on experiments, analytical theory, and first-principle computer simulations of hydrogen and helium to understand their behavior up to the extreme pressures ~10 Mbar and temperatures ~10,000 K. We review the various equations of state used in Jupiter models and compare them with shock wave experiments. We discuss the possibility of helium rain, core erosion and double diffusive convection may have important consequences for the structure and evolution of giant planets. In July 2016 the Juno spacecraft entered orbit around Jupiter, promising high-precision measurements of the gravitational field that will allow us to test our understanding of gas giant interiors better than ever before.

DOI: 10.1002/2016JE005080

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! This is actually super helpful and exactly what I asked for! Awesome :) $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 23:09

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