Research Expertise and Interest

Saturn, structure and evolution of Jupiter, and extrasolar giant planets

Research Description

B. Militzer studies the interiors of giant planets with computer simulations in order to understand their structure and evolution. Since materials in planetary interiors are exposed to extreme temperature and pressure conditions that cannot yet be reached with laboratory experiments. B. Militzer instead relies on highly accurate simulations from first principles. He and collaborators recently predicted the existence of a massive core in Jupiter of 14 Earth masses.

In the News

Chrysalis, the Lost Moon That Gave Saturn Its Rings

The new proposal for how Saturn became “Lord of the Rings” in our solar system and how Saturn got its axial tilt will be published this week in the journal Science. The lead author is Jack Wisdom, a professor of planetary science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with key contributions from Burkhard Militzer at the University of California, Berkeley.

Saturn hasn’t always had rings

One of the last acts of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft before its death plunge into Saturn’s hydrogen and helium atmosphere was to coast between the planet and its rings and let them tug it around, essentially acting as a gravity probe.

What magnetic fields can tell us about life on other planets

Every school kid knows that Earth has a magnetic field – it’s what makes compasses align north-south and lets us navigate the oceans. It also protects the atmosphere, and thus life, from the sun’s powerful wind. But what about other Earth-like planets in the galaxy? Do they also have magnetic fields to protect emerging life? A new analysis say they do have a magnetic field, but one generated in a totally novel way.

Helium rain on Jupiter explains lack of neon in atmosphere

When the Galileo probe descended through Jupiter's atmosphere in 1995, it found neon to be one-tenth as abundant as predicted. This unexpected finding has led two UC Berkeley researchers to propose that this is due to a rain of helium that depletes Jupiter's layers of neon as well as helium.

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