How Large Can a Planet be and Still Have Earth's Mass?


by Yae Miteo
Tags: earth, mass, planet
Yae Miteo
Yae Miteo is offline
#1
Dec13-13, 08:48 AM
Yae Miteo's Avatar
P: 15
Question: Just as in the title. How large can a planet be and still have the earth's mass? Obviously, this depends on its composition, just as long as it's solid and life can exist on it.
Phys.Org News Partner Astronomy news on Phys.org
First potentially habitable Earth-sized planet confirmed: It may have liquid water
A sharp eye on Southern binary stars
Hubble image: A cross-section of the universe
Drakkith
Drakkith is offline
#2
Dec13-13, 09:25 AM
PF Gold
Drakkith's Avatar
P: 11,012
It depends on the density. Lower density means a bigger planet and vice versa.
phinds
phinds is offline
#3
Dec13-13, 10:21 AM
PF Gold
phinds's Avatar
P: 5,676
Quote Quote by Yae Miteo View Post
Question: Just as in the title. How large can a planet be and still have the earth's mass? Obviously, this depends on its composition, just as long as it's solid and life can exist on it.
Your question is very vague. Define "solid". What "life" do you have in mind?

Chronos
Chronos is offline
#4
Dec13-13, 12:59 PM
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
Chronos's Avatar
P: 9,178

How Large Can a Planet be and Still Have Earth's Mass?


If a planet were composed entirely of ice [highly improbable], it would be less than 2 earth diameters in size.
tadchem
tadchem is offline
#5
Dec13-13, 01:09 PM
P: 61
Quote Quote by Chronos View Post
If a planet were composed entirely of ice [highly improbable], it would be less than 2 earth diameters in size.
I would call that a 'comet.'
Yae Miteo
Yae Miteo is offline
#6
Dec13-13, 01:58 PM
Yae Miteo's Avatar
P: 15
Okay, basically, "How large can a planet be and still be suitable for humans, i.e. not have an excessive gravitational pull. (no more than say, 10% greater than earth's)"
tadchem
tadchem is offline
#7
Dec13-13, 02:06 PM
P: 61
Newton's Law of Gravitation:
F = G*M1*M2/r^2
The surface acceleration of a planet (M2) is:
g = G*m2/r^2
but m2 = (4/3)*pi*r^3*d where d is the average density of the planet
so g = (4/3)*G*pi*r*d

Choose your favorite g and d and solve for r.
snorkack
snorkack is offline
#8
Dec15-13, 02:41 AM
P: 353
Quote Quote by tadchem View Post
Newton's Law of Gravitation:
F = G*M1*M2/r^2
The surface acceleration of a planet (M2) is:
g = G*m2/r^2
but m2 = (4/3)*pi*r^3*d where d is the average density of the planet
so g = (4/3)*G*pi*r*d

Choose your favorite g and d and solve for r.
You cannot. d is NOT independent on g, nor r.

And no one knows the density of Earth!
Sure, the compressed one is known to three figures from Cavendish experiment. But the uncompressed one...

http://books.google.ee/books?id=b6BR...ressed+density

confidently claims 4,0

http://books.google.ee/books?id=NMFL...nsity%22+Earth

as confidently claims range 4,4 to 4,5

Thus, the compressibility of Earth is unknown by half - which should mean 25 % uncertainty in sound speed. Well, earthquake waves should be better measured.

You thus have no means of estimating the compressed density of a planet bigger than Earth. Even if Earth compressibility were known, you would have no idea what the compressibility does at pressures slightly higher than those present and observed inside Earth.
Chronos
Chronos is offline
#9
Dec17-13, 10:53 PM
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
Chronos's Avatar
P: 9,178
I fail to see how this is relevant, snorkack.
snorkack
snorkack is offline
#10
Dec18-13, 04:52 PM
P: 353
Quote Quote by Chronos View Post
I fail to see how this is relevant, snorkack.
Highly relevant.
The question:
how big can an Earth mass solid planet be?
reduces to the question
how low density can Earth mass solid planet have?
And that depends on the compressibility of stone at high pressures.
ViperSRT3g
ViperSRT3g is offline
#11
Dec19-13, 05:44 AM
ViperSRT3g's Avatar
P: 40
Quote Quote by snorkack View Post
Highly relevant.
The question:
how big can an Earth mass solid planet be?
reduces to the question
how low density can Earth mass solid planet have?
And that depends on the compressibility of stone at high pressures.
I'm not as familiar as others are with the above math, but wouldn't you have much less compression of material in a decreased density planet?
tadchem
tadchem is offline
#12
Dec19-13, 07:08 AM
P: 61
Does a hypothetical planet HAVE to be stone?
Low density solids include H2O (917 kg/m3) - NH3 (817 kg/m3) - CH4 (423 kg/m3) - methane clathrate (900 kg/m3) - ammonium hydroxide (880 kg/m3) - all of which can be abundant enough in planetary space to form an earth-mass planet. These can be taken as an estimate to the lower limit of the density of a hypothetical solid planet.
These densities ignore compressibility (currently not known for most materials at the pressures developed inside an earth-sized planet). Compression will not change the mass of the planet, only its overall density, reducing the diameter.
Under extreme pressures, ice has a density of about 1300 kg/m3 (Ice XII, 800 MPa). A spherical body with this average density would have a radius 12.3% smaller than a spherical body of the same mass and the density of regular ice.
Rock is even less compressible than water or ice.


Register to reply

Related Discussions
what is the gravity of a planet 2 times the radius and 3 times the mass of earth Introductory Physics Homework 6
Consequences of large-scale mass redistribution on Earth's surface General Physics 3
River flow on a planet or large object. General Physics 13
Mass of planet, given only Earth's mass? Introductory Physics Homework 4
satellite question. find mass of planet and weight on planet? Introductory Physics Homework 2