I have a question about the gas giants

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brooklynspacecadet

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<p>there is something i just dont understand.</p><p>planets like jupiter and saturn are so large and symmetrically round. yet scientist claim that they are completely made up of gas. my question is why doesnt it just break apart and dissipate into space? if there is no density what is holding it to gether and keeping it stagnant in a such a perfect round sphere? planets like the earth and mars are very dense so they have tangibility.</p><p>my other questtion is what gives these gas planets its pigmentation? gases have color to them as well?&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p>
 
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qso1

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<p>Scientists claims are always prefaced with enough legal like disclaimers to make any philly lawyer blush, and for good reason. I know of no scientist who would say with absolute certainty that gas giants are gas all the way through. Some actually theorize liquid metallic hydrogen cores. Others theorize slushy hydrogen cores.</p><p>The reason gas wouldn't just break apart and float off into space is gravity. The core would be dense enough to have gravity enough to retain the gaseous atmospheres. This kind of implies a metallic or even rocky core but we cannot know for certain unless or until we get much better data about the nature of these giants.</p><p>Jupiter is of course, not perfectly spherical. Its high rotation rate causes it to buldge at the equatorial latitudes.&nbsp;</p><p>Rocky planets are held together by gravity into what appear to be more perfect spheres due to their size making mountainous imperfections hard to see. Generally, it is thought that spherical shapes begin to occur when enough material to form a mass 500 or more miles in diameter, is collected.</p><p>Pigmentation is the result of the wavelengths at which we see these gasses IIRC.&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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JimL

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>there is something i just dont understand.planets like jupiter and saturn are so large and symmetrically round. yet scientist claim that they are completely made up of gas. my question is why doesnt it just break apart and dissipate into space? if there is no density what is holding it to gether </DIV></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>It's all in what you actually mean by "gas." &nbsp; Lots of "scientific" terms are actually popularized words the public tends to grasp more easily.&nbsp; Thus "gas" really refers to the state it would take on if turned loose in your yard.</p><p>Take, for instance the "gases" hydrogen and oxygen.&nbsp; The shuttle lifts off partially on hydrogen "gas" and oxygen "gas."&nbsp; Both are compressed to the point where they become liquids.&nbsp; Did you ever see a tanker truck carrying LOX?&nbsp; Liquid oxygen.</p><p>Truly massive quantities of the lightest "gas", hydrogen, generate enough gravity to compress them, not only down to liquids but to solids.&nbsp; It is theorized that hydrogen "gas" at or near the center of the sun (greater mass than Jupiter) is so compressed by gravity that it takes on the consistency of lead at our own planet's surface gravity.</p><p>For your own experiment in gravity compression, go take a dive in the ocean.&nbsp; Try down to a mile for starters!&nbsp; My head starts feeling compressed at only 15 or 20 feet down.&nbsp; Altho sometimes I think it acts more like lead than anything, even on the surface.</p>
 
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tomnackid

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>there is something i just dont understand.planets like jupiter and saturn are so large and symmetrically round. yet scientist claim that they are completely made up of gas. my question is why doesnt it just break apart and dissipate into space? if there is no density what is holding it to gether and keeping it stagnant in a such a perfect round sphere? planets like the earth and mars are very dense so they have tangibility.my other questtion is what gives these gas planets its pigmentation? gases have color to them as well?&nbsp;&nbsp; <br /> Posted by brooklynspacecadet</DIV></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Gas giants stay together for the same reason that any other planet stays together...gravity. Gas has mass and like anything with mass generates a gravitational field. Gravity will pull any object large enough into a spherical shape. We normaly don't think about gas having mass but it does, and it has density. Put enough hydrogen gas together in one place and it will pull itself into a spherical shape under its own gravity. Actually the bulk of Jupiter is hydrogen condensed into the liquid state due to the intense pressure inside the planet. Go deeper and the hydrogen is condensed even further into a metallic solid. The core of Jupiter is probably about the size of earth and consists of denser trace elements that sink to the center--mostly carbon, some iron and heavier elements. Even with the earth the bulk of its mass is in a molten liquid form. Only the relatively thin crust is solid rock. Again it is gravity that holds the earth together and shapes it into a sphere. In reality all planets that rotate are not pefect spheres. Since most are relativel flexible (that is not solid rock all the way through) the get flattened at the poles and bulg at the equator do to the spin. Jupiter's flattening is very pronounced due to its rapid spin.</p><p>As for the colors in jupiter--they come from compunds related to amonia and methane that form and breakup in the planets atmosphere mostly due to action of UV light. As you go further from the sun the colors in the gas giants become more and more subdued.</p>
 
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derekmcd

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<p>Just to expand on some of the excellent answers above...</p><p>Think of Jupiter and what we see as nothing more than a giant atmosphere.&nbsp; Jupiter retains its atmosphere using the same physics that Earth retains its own atmosphere.&nbsp; Jupiter just has a lot more of it.&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div> </div><br /><div><span style="color:#0000ff" class="Apple-style-span">"If something's hard to do, then it's not worth doing." - Homer Simpson</span></div> </div>
 
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scottb50

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>&nbsp;Gas giants stay together for the same reason that any other planet stays together...gravity. Gas has mass and like anything with mass generates a gravitational field. Gravity will pull any object large enough into a spherical shape. We normaly don't think about gas having mass but it does, and it has density. Put enough hydrogen gas together in one place and it will pull itself into a spherical shape under its own gravity. Actually the bulk of Jupiter is hydrogen condensed into the liquid state due to the intense pressure inside the planet. Go deeper and the hydrogen is condensed even further into a metallic solid. The core of Jupiter is probably about the size of earth and consists of denser trace elements that sink to the center--mostly carbon, some iron and heavier elements. Even with the earth the bulk of its mass is in a molten liquid form. Only the relatively thin crust is solid rock. Again it is gravity that holds the earth together and shapes it into a sphere. In reality all planets that rotate are not pefect spheres. Since most are relativel flexible (that is not solid rock all the way through) the get flattened at the poles and bulg at the equator do to the spin. Jupiter's flattening is very pronounced due to its rapid spin.As for the colors in jupiter--they come from compunds related to amonia and methane that form and breakup in the planets atmosphere mostly due to action of UV light. As you go further from the sun the colors in the gas giants become more and more subdued. <br /> Posted by tomnackid</DIV></p><p>I think it's more likely the gas giants actually started pretty much the same way the other planets did, the difference was in the amount of gasses available to be pulled in by their gravity. Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus probably started out as a glob of siolid matter that attracted the copious amount of gasses available in their orbit. The inner planets attracted heavier Elements as well as gasses available in their orbits. The outer planets had a lot more gasses to attract then heavier Elements.</p><p>Because Mercury formed a lot closer to the Sun it had less gasses to attract and what it did have been vaporized off. Venus, Earth and Mars formed in areas that allowed them to hold the gasses, but there was not enough gas available as was further from the Sun so they held an atmosphere. Since the majority of matter where the outer planets formed was gasses they drew it all in. The core of all the planets started out basically the same. Clumps of matter that attracted more matter, where they were, in distance from the Sun, determined the amount and type of matter they accumulated. </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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brooklynspacecadet

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<p>so in reality perhaps they arent gas giants but very dense solid gas giants. since gravity is compressing them so tightly snce since there is so much gas becaause of the size of these planets they are pretty "rock solid".</p><p>my other question would be is what is the lifespan of a gas? rocks as we know on earch are aged to as old as the earth itself. how long can gases remain before they evaporate? how to the gas giants sustain their gas composition?</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>&nbsp;It's all in what you actually mean by "gas." &nbsp; Lots of "scientific" terms are actually popularized words the public tends to grasp more easily.&nbsp; Thus "gas" really refers to the state it would take on if turned loose in your yard.Take, for instance the "gases" hydrogen and oxygen.&nbsp; The shuttle lifts off partially on hydrogen "gas" and oxygen "gas."&nbsp; Both are compressed to the point where they become liquids.&nbsp; Did you ever see a tanker truck carrying LOX?&nbsp; Liquid oxygen.Truly massive quantities of the lightest "gas", hydrogen, generate enough gravity to compress them, not only down to liquids but to solids.&nbsp; It is theorized that hydrogen "gas" at or near the center of the sun (greater mass than Jupiter) is so compressed by gravity that it takes on the consistency of lead at our own planet's surface gravity.For your own experiment in gravity compression, go take a dive in the ocean.&nbsp; Try down to a mile for starters!&nbsp; My head starts feeling compressed at only 15 or 20 feet down.&nbsp; Altho sometimes I think it acts more like lead than anything, even on the surface. <br /> Posted by JimL</DIV><br /></p>
 
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Zipi

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<p>Even though the subject is valid and intresting it is at the wrong place... I think this discussion should be located under "ask the astronomer" or "space science & astronomy" forum.</p><p>Please mods, move this thread to a more suitable place.</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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bearack

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Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Even though the subject is valid and intresting it is at the wrong place... I think this discussion should be located under "ask the astronomer" or "space science & astronomy" forum.Please mods, move this thread to a more suitable place. <br />Posted by Zipi</DIV><br /><br />Unfortunately, I think the new pluck system does not allow them to move threads anymore. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><br /><img id="06322a8d-f18d-4ab1-8ea7-150275a4cb53" src="http://sitelife.space.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/6/14/06322a8d-f18d-4ab1-8ea7-150275a4cb53.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" /></p> </div>
 
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efron_24

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>I think it's more likely the gas giants actually started pretty much the same way the other planets did, the difference was in the amount of gasses available to be pulled in by their gravity. Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus probably started out as a glob of siolid matter that attracted the copious amount of gasses available in their orbit. The inner planets attracted heavier Elements as well as gasses available in their orbits. The outer planets had a lot more gasses to attract then heavier Elements.Because Mercury formed a lot closer to the Sun it had less gasses to attract and what it did have been vaporized off. Venus, Earth and Mars formed in areas that allowed them to hold the gasses, but there was not enough gas available as was further from the Sun so they held an atmosphere. Since the majority of matter where the outer planets formed was gasses they drew it all in. The core of all the planets started out basically the same. Clumps of matter that attracted more matter, where they were, in distance from the Sun, determined the amount and type of matter they accumulated. <br />Posted by scottb50</DIV><br /><br />A theory is that Mercury lost lot's of it's atmosphere during a giant impact</p><p>In fact Earth did so too.</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>A theory is that Mercury lost lot's of it's atmosphere during a giant impactIn fact Earth did so too. <br />Posted by efron_24</DIV><br /><br />While that is one theory, I suspect the true cause is the intense solar wind, heat (breaking down molecules into lighter pieces, more easily swept away) and other intense things that happen at that distance and environment.</p><p>Certainly, other stellar systems have "hot giants" at such distances, but it seems likely the only way for such a large object to be there is to have it migrate to that position, not form there.</p><p>Perhaps Mercury is the end result of a process&nbsp; where the planet forms there, and the hot giants are a process that moves them there.</p><p>It's all rather speculative at this point; after all the whole purpose of MESSENGER is to help answer these quetions!</p><p>MW</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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scottb50

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>While that is one theory, I suspect the true cause is the intense solar wind, heat (breaking down molecules into lighter pieces, more easily swept away) and other intense things that happen at that distance and environment.Certainly, other stellar systems have "hot giants" at such distances, but it seems likely the only way for such a large object to be there is to have it migrate to that position, not form there.Perhaps Mercury is the end result of a process&nbsp; where the planet forms there, and the hot giants are a process that moves them there.It's all rather speculative at this point; after all the whole purpose of MESSENGER is to help answer these quetions!MW <br /> Posted by MeteorWayne</DIV></p><p>i would have to differ with you, I agree Mercury could have had an atmosphere and it was disipated by the Sun. The gas giants had to have a nucleus to start their formation, it might not be more then what we call an asteroid or it could have evolved from a Earth sized mass ejected into that orbit. It is all a matter of gravity. A body in a region with gasses would attract the gasses in the region it orbited in. As it grew heavier it's orbit would have moved inward and it would have attracted more gasses. </p><p>If more gasses existed where Pluto is it may have been the nucleus of a gas giant, not enough gas made it that far though, so it attracted what it could and became what it is.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>This all implies the heaviest materials are closer to the Sun, that also means material we can only produce artificially may exist on Venus or Mercury in a natural state. That also opens up the probability other matter exist there we don't have a clue about and could provide us energy without being beholding to others. &nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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