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Is nuclear fusion of Jupiter possible?

  1. Feb 17, 2016 #1
    Hello everyone,

    I have a question about nuclear fusion.
    The simplest form of nuclear fusion is the fusion of 4 hydrogen atoms
    into 1 helium atom. Jupiter has a mass close to 1.9 * 1027 kg and around 90%
    of its mass consists out of hydrogen -> 0.9 * 1.9 * 10 27 = 1.71 * 1027 kg.
    I know that it is practically impossible to achieve, but is it theoratically possible to fuse all that hydrogen
    into helium in one instant or in a very short time? If it is possible, how much energy would be released during
    such an event? It would probably be extremely dangerous, but is there a way far more advanced humans could create such an event in the far, far future?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 17, 2016 #2
    I think it isn't possible, given what we now know. Even in the most massive stars fusion is very slow.

    If it were to occur I'd roughly estimate the energy would be equivalent to the explosion of an onzillion tons of TNT. That 10^33. I can't imagine what would happen.
  4. Feb 17, 2016 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    The 90% are only true for the upper atmosphere, overall about 75% of its mass is hydrogen.

    It is not possible. If it would, Jupiter would be a star. It might be possible to induce some fusion if you dump a medium-sized black hole into it. You can also collect deuterium (hydrogen-2, a very rare isotope of hydrogen) from Jupiter and use it in fusion bombs, but that is probably not the idea behind the question.

    Hydrogen-1 to helium-4 fusion releases about 6*1014 J/kg, fusing all the hydrogen in Jupiter would release about 1042 J, roughly the energy the sun emits in 70 million years.
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