Astrophysics (Index)About

volatile material

(material with low condensation temperature)

In astrophysical usage (e.g., planetary science, such as theories of planet formation) volatile material is material that becomes solid at a low temperature, thus turns solid late if it is cooling. Other material is called refractory material. The material in question can be a pure chemical element (volatile element or refractory element), or it can be a compound (volatile compound or refractory compound). A commonly-used line between the two is turning solid below/above 1300 K. When a planet is forming, cooling from a high temperature, volatiles have more time to escape, a reason for their low abundances later on. Volatiles include water, methane, molecular hydrogen, and the familiar molecules of the Earth's atmosphere.

Astrophysics uses the term condensation and condensation temperature to refer to the material becoming solid as it cools whereas the word condensation typically refers to gas cooling and turning to liquid.

Further reading:

Referenced by pages:
cold trap
gas planet
ice giant
potassium/thorium ratio (K/Th ratio)
Moon formation
nitrogen (N)
planet formation
refractory material
snow line