Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: Could a gas planet ever get depleted?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    3

    Could a gas planet ever get depleted?

    Is there any sort of continuous production of gasses on a planet like Jupiter, or is the composition of the atmosphere just kind of fixed? If a planet like that were the subject of a gas mining operation in a sci fi story (think Bespin in Star Wars), would the gasses eventually be depleted, or would they be able to regenerate somehow? Or do we even know?

    In the event that they were eventually depleted, I'd think that might gradually affect the planet's atmospheric/gravitational stability and would screw up any moons or space stations orbiting it (and then of course kill the planet itself).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    3,199
    The only way in practical terms that a gas giant could be depleted (so far as I know) is from solar heating, as for a hot Jupiter whose atmosphere blows off into a heliocentric ring.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    3
    So if there was some sort of sci fi mining operation removing gas from the atmosphere in modest quantities, would the planet be able to replenish itself? Or would that gas just be gone? Because I feel like if a mining operation like that went on for long enough (and it probably would take a long time), it would eventually have adverse effects on the planet.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    488
    Planets of any kind accrete additional mass over time by the simple mechanism of running into other material in space, from individual particles up to large bodies like comets, asteroids and in extreme cases other planet size bodies. But, except in the rare cases of very large impacts, this steady accumulation of in-falling matter is not significant compared to the size of the planet. Other than that there is no mechanism known that could generate new mass within a planet. Gasses could be replenished by natural processes, such as changes of state or chemical reactions, but only to the limit of the materials the planet has to start with.

    If your mining operation is on a large enough scale it could certainly deplete a gas giant planet, but you are talking very large scale to have a significant depletion of gas. If the operation were large enough scale to cause a significant change in the mass of the planet, and there doesn't seem to be any reason why it couldn't be in principle, then yes, that would affect the orbits of everything around the planet.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    11,505
    The Jupiter Theft...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    3,418
    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    The Jupiter Theft...
    Good book.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    3,418
    Quote Originally Posted by Darrell View Post
    If the operation were large enough scale to cause a significant change in the mass of the planet, and there doesn't seem to be any reason why it couldn't be in principle, then yes, that would affect the orbits of everything around the planet.
    And at this scale, you might also want to consider how that mass is being redistributed around the solar system.
    Is it increasing the mass of other planets?
    It is being distributed thinly about the SS as reaction mass?
    Is it leaving the system in the tanks of interstellar craft?

  8. #8
    Glom's Avatar
    Glom is offline Insert awesome title here
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Posts
    11,289
    Think it might have been The Complete Cosmos which had a rendering of what would happen when the Sun runs out of hydrogen and pitches a fit. It would allegedly denude Jupiter quite severely.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Posts
    131
    Quote Originally Posted by theant4 View Post
    So if there was some sort of sci fi mining operation removing gas from the atmosphere in modest quantities, would the planet be able to replenish itself? Or would that gas just be gone? Because I feel like if a mining operation like that went on for long enough (and it probably would take a long time), it would eventually have adverse effects on the planet.
    But the amount that needs to be taken from say Jupiter would have to be enormous to have any lasting effect

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    location
    Posts
    12,410
    To Expand on what Darrell wrote, the removal of mass would remove mass. However, if the gas giant has liquid oceans of the same sort of element, then the liquid could turn to gas to make up for the gas that was removed. For example, water boils at a lower temperature when the pressure is lower (hence different cooking instructions for Denver, Colorado).
    Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    The Space Coast
    Posts
    4,411
    Quote Originally Posted by Ara Pacis View Post
    To Expand on what Darrell wrote, the removal of mass would remove mass. However, if the gas giant has liquid oceans of the same sort of element, then the liquid could turn to gas to make up for the gas that was removed. For example, water boils at a lower temperature when the pressure is lower (hence different cooking instructions for Denver, Colorado).
    Yes, but the mass wouldn't change, just the average density.

    CJSF
    "Flipping this one final switch I'm effectively ensuring that I will be
    Overcoming all resistance long after my remains have been
    Vaporized with extreme prejudice and shot into outer space.

    I'll be haunting you."

    -They Might Be Giants, "I'll Be Haunting You"


    lonelybirder.org

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    13,624
    It's important to note that there can be no process of regeneration. If you mine more quickly that the planet gains mass from falling dust, then it will lose mass, period. You can't create something out of nothing, it's the law actually.

    Also, it will affect the orbits of moons and space stations, but not catastrophically.
    As above, so below

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Nowhere (middle)
    Posts
    36,941
    As far as orbits go, any civilization (or series of many civilizations) that has the capacity to tap a gas giant on a large scale, could certainly adjust the orbits of moons as well.

    Killing the planet might be harder, as Jovian planets have cores of heavy elements, which will remain behind after the gas is gone. If the Sun is still around then, you might even terraform the newly terrestrial planet. (Assuming the effects of pressure release leave its exposed surface viably stable.)
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    location
    Posts
    12,410
    Quote Originally Posted by CJSF View Post
    Yes, but the mass wouldn't change, just the average density.

    CJSF
    Eh? The mass changes when it's removed. The OP was asking about regenerating gas not mass.
    Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    The Space Coast
    Posts
    4,411
    Sorry, I knew that. I thought you were saying something else, and I was medicated at the time! I think I meant, the mass of the remaining planet wouldn't change with the conversion to gas, but the density would. Which is sort of not relevant. Don't post under the influence, they say!

    CJSF
    "Flipping this one final switch I'm effectively ensuring that I will be
    Overcoming all resistance long after my remains have been
    Vaporized with extreme prejudice and shot into outer space.

    I'll be haunting you."

    -They Might Be Giants, "I'll Be Haunting You"


    lonelybirder.org

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •