SUMMARY: The jovian planets are essentially huge balls of gas, each surrounded by many moons and also rings.

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Sections:CompositionRotationMoons and also RingsWhy so different?AtmospheresInteriorsRelated linksRelated Lessons:Jupiter"s family member SizeThe an excellent Red point out PinwheelCan Photosynthesis occur at Saturn?Patterns and also FingerprintsUsing Spectral Data To check out Saturn and Titan

Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and also Neptune collectively make up the group known together the jovian planets. The basic structures the the jovian planets room opposite those that the terrestrial planets. Quite than having actually thin atmospheres roughly relatively huge rocky bodies, the jovian planets have relatively small, thick cores surrounded by massive great of gas. Made nearly entirely that hydrogen and also helium, these planets carry out not have solid surfaces.

The Jovian Planets(click to enlarge)
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How Rotation Affects planet Shapes(click come enlarge)

Unlike the spherical forms of terrestrial planets, the jovian planets room all contempt oblong. The jovian planets revolve much faster than any of the terrestrial worlds. Heaviness by itself would make a planet spherical, yet their rapid rotation flattens out their spherical shapes by flinging material near the equator outward.

Observations the clouds at various latitudes imply that the jovian planets revolve at different speeds near their equators than close to their poles.JOVIAN "DAYS"Jupiter : 10 hoursSaturn : 10 hoursUranus : 16-17 hoursNeptune : 16-17 hours

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After size, probably the most noticeable difference between the jovian and terrestrial planets involves moons and also rings. The terrestrial planets are nearly isolated worlds, v only planet (1 moon) and also Mars (2 moons) orbited by any kind of moons at all. In contrast, many moons and rings orbit each of the jovian planets.

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All 4 jovian planets have rings, although just Saturn"s rings are easily visible native Earth. Rings room composed of countless little pieces that rock and ice, every orbiting its planet like a small moon. The ring look flat due to the fact that the particles all orbit in essentially the exact same plane. The rings are situated closer come the planets than any of their moderately sized or big moons, but the inner leaf of the rings is quiet well above the planet"s cloud tops.


Jupiter through its moons Europa (closest in) and Callisto aligned v the planet"s center.(click come enlarge)