From Wikipedia on superconductivity of metallic hydrogen:

In 1968, Neil Ashcroft put forward that metallic hydrogen may be a superconductor, up to room temperature (~290 K), far higher than any other known candidate material. This stems from its extremely high speed of sound and the expected strong coupling between the conduction electrons and the lattice vibrations.

If a planet like Jupiter has lots of hydrogen, is it likely it could be a giant superconductor? What effects could this have & how can we look for or detect such a thing?


Yes, and that's believed to be the source of Jupiter's gigantic magnetosphere. It is also a possible explanation for bizarre cooling of Cassiopeia A. So that's at least two immediate effects of large quantities of metallic hydrogen present in a celestial body; formation of a magnetosphere and faster cooling of their outer cores. Both of these effects are measurable. Magnetosphere of Jupiter was and still is measured by deep space probes, orbiters, any flyby spacecraft. Its side-effects also cause magnetic reconnection events with the Sun's magnetic field, causing polar aurorae and radio frequency emissions that can be observed remotely, some of them even with amateur radio astronomy equipment. And cooling of the outer core is measurable through Jupiter's density (its mass to volume ratio) that can also be inferred through data obtained with observational astronomy.

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  • $\begingroup$ Is Jupiter or another large body referred to anywhere directly as a 'superconductor', or is the word unnecessary in this case? As Jupiter increases density at maximum volume, will we see the field grow? $\endgroup$ – Space Librarian Jan 25 '14 at 12:59
  • $\begingroup$ The word is unnecessary. $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Jan 25 '14 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ @TildalWave, are you confusing superconductivity with regular conductivity? I don't understand how this answers OP's question. $\endgroup$ – ninemileskid Apr 2 '15 at 2:10
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    $\begingroup$ @ninemileskid No. Theory of superconductivity of WDM is pretty sound and indeed observed (indirectly) where predicted. It's a bit tricky to confirm this experimentally though. For the theoretical part, check e.g. Determining the Properties of Dense Matter: Superconductivity, Bulk Viscosity, and Light Reflection in Compact Stars (PDF). For experimental part, see e.g. SLAC's public lecture: Jupiter in a Bottle $\endgroup$ – TildalWave Apr 2 '15 at 6:58

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