I sometimes have research ideas that I think are cool, but that don’t make sense for me to pursue. I generally just make a note of them and move on. This is the 27th post in a series describing some of the ideas I’ve accumulated.
Chemical Mixing on Tayler Columns
What’s the idea?
In rapidly rotating stars and planets convection forms narrow columns. Mixing is rapid along the column but slow across columns. It might be possible to see signs of this difference in mixing speed during events involving transient changes in chemistry.
Why does this matter?
It probably doesn’t, but I think it’s a neat idea.
How can I get started?
The only bodies with Tayler columns that we can really image and resolve are the gas giant planets in our solar system. If one of these eats a large asteroid/comet, it’s possible that we’ll see the chemistry from that body spread out in a latitudinal band and primarily dilute into the depths rather than spreading to lower latitudes. The impactor probably needs to be quite large or have very unusual chemistry for chemical pollution to be detectable at all, and I’m not sure if that’s plausible.
So it’s probably worth doing some order-of-magnitude estimates to see if is something there’s any hope of seeing.