Dissociation of CH4 at high pressures and temperatures: diamond formation in giant planet interiors?
Experiments using laser-heated diamond anvil cells show that methane (CH4) breaks down to form diamond at pressures between 10 and 50 gigapascals and temperatures of about 2000 to 3000 kelvin. Infrared absorption and Raman spectroscopy, along with x-ray diffraction, indicate the presence of polymeric hydrocarbons in addition to the diamond, which is in agreement with theoretical predictions. Dissociation of CH4 at high pressures and temperatures can influence the energy budgets of planets containing substantial amounts of CH4, water, and ammonia, such as Uranus and Neptune. (+info)
Inhibition of glycogen synthesis by increased lipid availability is associated with subcellular redistribution of glycogen synthase.
Increased lipid availability is associated with diminished insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis in muscle, but it is not clear whether alterations in glycogen synthase activity itself play a direct role. Because intracellular localization of this enzyme is involved in its regulation, we investigated whether fat oversupply causes an inhibitory redistribution. We examined the recovery of glycogen synthase in subcellular fractions from muscle of insulin-resistant, fat-fed rats and chow-fed controls, either maintained in the basal state or after a euglycaemic-hyperinsulinaemic clamp. Although glycogen synthase protein and activity were mostly recovered in an insoluble fraction, insulin caused translocation of activity from the smaller soluble pool to the insoluble fraction. Fat-feeding, which led to a reduction in glycogen synthesis during the clamp, was associated with a depletion in the soluble pool, consistent with an important role for this component. A similar depletion was also observed in cytosolic fractions of muscles from obese db/db mice, another model of lipid-induced insulin resistance. To investigate this in more detail, we employed lipid-pretreated L6 myotubes, which exhibited a reduction in insulin-stimulated glycogen synthesis independently of alterations in glucose flux or insulin signalling through protein kinase B. In control cells, insulin caused redistribution of a minor cytosolic pool of glycogen synthase to an insoluble fraction, which was again forestalled by lipid pretreatment. Glycogen synthase recovered in the insoluble fraction from pre-treated cells exhibited a low fractional velocity that was not increased in response to insulin. Our results suggest that the initial localization of glycogen synthase in a soluble pool plays an important role in glycogen synthesis, and that its sequestration in an insulin-resistant insoluble pool may explain in part the reduced glycogen synthesis caused by lipid oversupply. (+info)
Grain size-sensitive creep in ice II.
Rheological experiments on fine-grained water ice II at low strain rates reveal a creep mechanism that dominates at conditions of low stress. Using cryogenic scanning electron microscopy, we observed that a change in stress exponent from 5 to 2.5 correlates strongly with a decrease in grain size from about 40 to 6 micrometers. The grain size-sensitive creep of ice II demonstrated here plausibly dominates plastic strain at the low-stress conditions in the interior of medium- to large-sized icy moons of the outer solar system. (+info)
A thick cloud of Neptune Trojans and their colors.
The dynamical and physical properties of asteroids offer one of the few constraints on the formation, evolution, and migration of the giant planets. Trojan asteroids share a planet's semimajor axis but lead or follow it by about 60 degrees near the two triangular Lagrangian points of gravitational equilibrium. Here we report the discovery of a high-inclination Neptune Trojan, 2005 TN(53). This discovery demonstrates that the Neptune Trojan population occupies a thick disk, which is indicative of "freeze-in" capture instead of in situ or collisional formation. The Neptune Trojans appear to have a population that is several times larger than the Jupiter Trojans. Our color measurements show that Neptune Trojans have statistically indistinguishable slightly red colors, which suggests that they had a common formation and evolutionary history and are distinct from the classical Kuiper Belt objects. (+info)
Kepler constraints on planets near hot Jupiters.
Dissociation of methane into hydrocarbons at extreme (planetary) pressure and temperature.
Constant-pressure, first-principles molecular dynamic simulations were used to investigate the behavior of methane at high pressure and temperature. Contrary to the current interpretation of shock-wave experiments, the simulations suggest that, below 100 gigapascals, methane dissociates into a mixture of hydrocarbons, and it separates into hydrogen and carbon only above 300 gigapascals. The simulation conditions (100 to 300 gigapascals; 4000 to 5000 kelvin) were chosen to follow the isentrope in the middle ice layers of Neptune and Uranus. Implications on the physics of these planets are discussed. (+info)
Surface composition of Kuiper belt object 1993SC.
The 1.42- to 2.40-micrometer spectrum of Kuiper belt object 1993SC was measured at the Keck Observatory in October 1996. It shows a strongly red continuum reflectance and several prominent infrared absorption features. The strongest absorptions in 1993SC's spectrum occur near 1.62, 1.79, 1.95, 2.20, and 2.32 micrometers in wavelength. Features near the same wavelengths in the spectra of Pluto and Neptune's satellite Triton are due to CH4 on their surfaces, suggesting the presence of a simple hydrocarbon ice such as CH4, C2H6, C2H4, or C2H2 on 1993SC. In addition, the red continuum reflectance of 1993SC suggests the presence of more complex hydrocarbons. (+info)
A disk of scattered icy objects and the origin of Jupiter-family comets.
Orbital integrations carried out for 4 billion years produced a disk of scattered objects beyond the orbit of Neptune. Objects in this disk can be distinguished from Kuiper belt objects by a greater range of eccentricities and inclinations. This disk was formed in the simulations by encounters with Neptune during the early evolution of the outer solar system. After particles first encountered Neptune, the simulations show that about 1 percent of the particles survive in this disk for the age of the solar system. A disk currently containing as few as approximately 6 x 10(8) objects could supply all of the observed Jupiter-family comets. Two recently discovered objects, 1996 RQ20 and 1996 TL66, have orbital elements similar to those predicted for objects in this disk, suggesting that they are thus far the only members of this disk to be identified. (+info)