Planetary Science Directorate


Upcoming SwRI Boulder Colloquia

Colloquia are normally on Tuesdays at 11:00 am in the 4th-floor conference room, except as indicated below in bold text.
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For questions or suggestions for speakers, please contact the SwRI colloquium organizers:
Derek Lamb, 720-208-7207 or derek(at)
Raluca Rufu, 303-226-0879 or raluca(at)
Julien Salmon, 720-208-7203 or julien(at)
Kelsi Singer, 303-226-5910 or ksinger(at)

To be added to the SwRI Boulder Colloquia email list, please contact Kelsi Singer, ksinger(at)

Tue Jan 11, 202211:00 am Rafael Fuentes McGill University Gas giants in a box: Penetration of a convection zone into a stable-stratified fluid
Abstract: Giant planets like Jupiter, which undergo strong convection in their gaseous envelopes, might develop composition gradients from their formation history and collisional events during their evolution. During the early evolution of a giant planet, a convection zone propagates inwards as the planet cools down. How quickly does the convection zone move inward? What is the mixing mechanism behind this process? Using numerical simulations, I will show that the rate at which the convective zone evolves depends on how quickly it cools down and how large is the initial composition gradient (a large composition gradient makes the evolution slower). Further, turbulent motions near the boundary of the convective zone carry enough energy to lift and mix heavier fluid from below. This process is called "entrainment" and plays an important role in the growth of the convection zone and the enrichment of heavy elements in the outer envelope of the planet. I will discuss how mixing efficiencies calculated from numerical simulations can be used for studies of core erosion in Jupiter.