Astronomy

Gas giants

The gas giant or gaseous planet as it is also known, is a large planet composed mainly of gases, such as hydrogen and helium, with a relatively small rocky nucleus. The gas giants of our solar system are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. These four giant planets, also called jovial planets after Jupiter, reside in the outer part of our solar system beyond the orbits of Mars and the asteroid belt. Jupiter and Saturn are substantially larger than Uranus and Neptune, and each pair of planets has a somewhat different composition.

Gas giants

Related topics

Dwarf planets

What are gas giants?

They are the planets located in the external part of the solar system and that are formed mainly by hydrogen and helium, which is a reflection of the composition of the original solar nebula.

Which are the gas giants?

The gas giants that exist in our solar system are the following:

It is also important to mention that due to the difference that all these planets have in their structure and composition, the four gas giants are usually differentiated by name, Jupiter and Saturn are classified as “gas giants“, while Uranus and Neptune are known as “ice giants“.

Characteristics

The main characteristics of the gas giants are the following:

Why they are called gas giants?

The gas giants are called this way because they are planets in which their composition is dominated by gases, mainly hydrogen and helium. Most of the exoplanets or extrasolar planets that have been discovered so far, are gaseous because they are planets of greater size and mass. They are also called giant planets because their size is much larger than that of the terrestrial planets of the solar system and because of this, they are easier for scientists to discover than other planets.

How they differ from rocky planets?

One of the main differences that we can notice between gas giants and rocky planets is that the first ones are composed mainly of hydrogen and methane, in other words, they are composed of gases; instead, rocky planets are composed mostly of a solid surface and rock.

Other differences are that gas giants do not have a surface with a good definition, while rocky planets do. The rocky planets have secondary atmospheres that have arisen from the internal geological processes of the earth, whereas the gas giants have primary atmospheres that have been captured directly from the original solar nebula.

Examples of gas giants

The gas giants are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, in addition to some that are in the external part of the solar system.

Written by Gabriela Briceño V.
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