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A giant planet is any massive planet.

They are usually primarily composed of low


-boiling-point materials (gas or ices), rather than rock or other solid matter,
but massive solid planets can also exist. There are four giant planets in the So
lar System: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Many extrasolar giant planets h
ave been identified orbiting other stars.
Giant planets are also sometimes called jovian planets, after Jupiter. They are
also sometimes known as gas giants. However, many astronomers apply the latter t
erm only to Jupiter and Saturn, classifying Uranus and Neptune, which have diffe
rent compositions, as ice giants.[1][2] Both names are potentially misleading: a
ll of the giant planets consist primarily of fluids above their critical points,
where distinct gas and liquid phases do not exist. The principal components are
hydrogen and helium in the case of Jupiter and Saturn, and water, ammonia and m
ethane in the case of Uranus and Neptune.
Objects large enough to start deuterium fusion (above 13 Jupiter masses in the c
ase of solar composition) are called brown dwarfs, which occupy the mass range b
etween that of large giant planets and the lowest-mass stars.
Description
These cut-aways illustrate interior models of the giant planets. Jupiter shown w
ith a rocky core overlaid by a deep layer of metallic hydrogen.
A giant planet is a massive planet and has a thick atmosphere of hydrogen and he
lium. They may have a dense molten core of rocky elements, or the core may have
completely dissolved and dispersed throughout the planet if the planet is hot en
ough.[3] In "traditional" giant planets such as Jupiter and Saturn (the gas gian
ts) hydrogen and helium constitute most of the mass of the planet, whereas they
only make up an outer envelope on Uranus and Neptune, which are instead mostly c
omposed of water, ammonia, and methane and therefore increasingly referred to as
"ice giants".
Among extrasolar planets, hot Jupiters and hot Neptunes are giant planets that o
rbit very close to their stars and thus have a very high surface temperature. Ho
t Jupiters were, until the advent of space-borne telescopes, the most common for
m of extrasolar planet known, due to the relative ease of detecting them from gr
ound-based instruments.
Giant planets are commonly said to lack solid surfaces, but it is more accurate
to say that they lack surfaces altogether since the gases that constitute them s
imply become thinner and thinner with increasing distance from the planets' cent
ers, eventually becoming indistinguishable from the interplanetary medium. There
fore landing on a giant planet may or may not be possible, depending on the size
and composition of its core.