Probing the interiors of the ice giants: shock compression of water to 700 GPa and 3.8 g/cm³

Phys Rev Lett. 2012 Mar 2;108(9):091102. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.091102. Epub 2012 Feb 27.


Recently, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of identified extrasolar planetary systems. Our understanding of their formation is tied to exoplanet internal structure models, which rely upon equations of state of light elements and compounds such as water. Here, we present shock compression data for water with unprecedented accuracy that show that water equations of state commonly used in planetary modeling significantly overestimate the compressibility at conditions relevant to planetary interiors. Furthermore, we show that its behavior at these conditions, including reflectivity and isentropic response, is well-described by a recent first-principles based equation of state. These findings advocate that this water model be used as the standard for modeling Neptune, Uranus, and "hot Neptune" exoplanets and should improve our understanding of these types of planets.