Thermodynamics and Energy


A Thermodynamic History of the Solar Constitution - II: The Theory of a Gaseous Sun and Jeans’ Failed Liquid Alternative

Authors: Pierre-Marie Robitaille

In this work, the development of solar theory is followed from the concept that the Sun was an ethereal nuclear body with a partially condensed photosphere to the creation of a fully gaseous object. An overview will be presented of the liquid Sun. A powerful lineage has brought us the gaseous Sun and two of its main authors were the direct scientific descendants of Gustav Robert Kirchhoff: Franz Arthur Friedrich Schuster and Arthur Stanley Eddington. It will be discovered that the seminal ideas of Father Secchi and Hervé Faye were not abandoned by astronomy until the beginning of 20th century. The central role of carbon in early solar physics will also be highlighted by revisiting George Johnstone Stoney. The evolution of the gaseous models will be outlined, along with the contributions of Johann Karl Friedrich Zöllner, James Clerk Maxwell, Jonathan Homer Lane, August Ritter, William Thomson, William Huggins, William Edward Wilson, George Francis FitzGerald, Jacob Robert Emden, Frank Washington Very, Karl Schwarzschild, and Edward Arthur Milne. Finally, with the aid of Edward Arthur Milne, the work of James Hopwood Jeans, the last modern advocate of a liquid Sun, will be rediscovered. Jeans was a staunch advocate of the condensed phase, but deprived of a proper building block, he would eventually abandon his non-gaseous stars. For his part, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar would spend nine years of his life studying homogeneous liquid masses. These were precisely the kind of objects which Jeans had considered for his liquid stars.

Comments: 19 Pages. First published in: Progress in Physics, 2011, v. 3, 41-59

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