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Internal heat

Internal heat is the heat source from the interior celestial objects, such as planets, brown dwarfs, and stars, caused by gravity and decaying radioactive materials. The amount of internal heat depends on mass; the more massive the object, the more internal heat it has. The internal heat keeps celestial objects warm and active.

The internal heat is the heat leftover from formation of celestial objects. The aging objects lose internal heat gradually except for stars.

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Terrestrial planets

The internal heat within terrestrial planets powers tectonic and volcanic activities. Earth has the most internal heat because it is the most massive of the terrestrial planets. Mercury and Mars have no significant internal heating because they are only 5-10% the mass of Earth and they are "geologically dead".

Gas giants

The gas giants have much greater internal heating than terrestrial planets. Jupiter have the most internal heat with core temperature of 36000 K. For the outer planets of our solar system, internal heating powers the weather and wind instead of sunlight that powers the weather for terrestrial planets. The internal heating within gas giant planets raise temperatures higher than effective temperatures, as in the case of Jupiter, this makes 40 K warmer than given effective temperature. The internal heating within giant planets that orbit very close to their stars make planets puffier, or expansion of planets.

Brown dwarfs

Brown dwarfs have greater internal heating than gas giants but not as great as stars. The internal heating within brown dwarfs is great enough to sustain thermonuclear reaction of deuterium to helium. Like gas giants, brown dwarfs can have weather and wind powered by internal heating.


The internal heating within stars are so great that they sustain thermonuclear reaction of hydrogen to helium and can make heavier elements. The Sun for example has a core temperature of 13,600,000 K. The bluer, more massive, hotter, and older the stars are, the more internal heat it has. During the end of its lifecycle, the internal heat of a star increases dramatically, caused by contracting core, eventually becoming hot enough to fuse helium then carbon or oxygen.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Internal_heat". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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