The recent discovery of thousands of planets outside our Solar System raises fundamental questions about the variety of planetary types and their corresponding interior structures and dynamics. To better understand these objects, there is a strong need to constrain material properties at the extreme pressures found within planetary interiors 1,2 . Here we used high-powered lasers at the National Ignition Facility to ramp compress iron over nanosecond timescales to 1.4 TPa (14 million atmospheres)-a pressure four times higher than for previous static compression data. A Lagrangian sound-speed analysis was used to determine pressure, density and sound speed along a continuous isentropic compression path. Our peak pressures are comparable to those predicted at the centre of a terrestrial-Type exoplanet of three to four Earth masses 3, representing the first absolute equation of state measurements for iron at such conditions. These results provide an experiment-based mass-radius relationship for a hypothetical pure iron planet that can be used to evaluate plausible compositional space for large, rocky exoplanets.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics