Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

2011 Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, Ricardo Amils, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Henderson James (Jim) CleavesII, William M. Irvine, Daniele L. Pinti, Michel Viso

Primordial Heat

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-11274-4_1274


Primordial heat is the internal heat energy accumulated by dissipation in a planet during its first few million years of evolution. The main contributions to the primordial heat are accretional energy – the energy deposited by infalling planetesimals – and differentiation energy. The latter is mainly released by core formation and is basically potential energy that is dissipated upon formation of a gravitationally stable layering of the planet. In addition to the primordial heat, the planet’s internal heat source is mainly provided by the radioactive decay of long-lived unstable isotopes such as 238U, 235U, 232Th, and 40K and by latent heat.

See also

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DLRInstitut für PlanetenforschungBerlinGermany