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

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Sections:CompositionRotationMoons and also RingsWhy therefore different?AtmospheresInteriorsRelated linksRelated Lessons:Jupiter"s relative SizeThe great Red spot PinwheelCan Photosynthesis happen at Saturn?Patterns and FingerprintsUsing Spectral Data To explore Saturn and also Titan

Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and also Neptune collectively make up the group known as the jovian planets. The general structures that the jovian planets room opposite those of the terrestrial planets. Fairly than having actually thin atmospheres about relatively big rocky bodies, the jovian planets have fairly small, thick cores surrounded by massive layers of gas. Made nearly entirely that hydrogen and helium, these planets execute not have actually solid surfaces.


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

Unlike the spherical forms of terrestrial planets, the jovian planets room all slightly oblong. The jovian planets rotate much quicker than any kind of of the terrestrial worlds. Gravity by itself would certainly make a earth spherical, but their rapid rotation flattens out their spherical shapes by flinging material near the equator outward.

Observations that clouds at various latitudes suggest that the jovian planets revolve at various speeds close to 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, maybe the many noticeable difference in between the jovian and terrestrial planets requires moons and rings. The terrestrial planets are almost isolated worlds, with only planet (1 moon) and also Mars (2 moons) orbited by any kind of moons in ~ all. In contrast, many moons and also rings orbit each of the jovian planets.

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All four jovian planets have actually rings, although only Saturn"s rings are quickly visible indigenous Earth. Rings room composed the countless small pieces that rock and ice, every orbiting its planet like a small moon. The rings look flat because the particles every orbit in essentially the very same plane. The rings are located closer to the planets than any type of of your moderately size or large moons, yet the inner leaf of the rings is quiet well above the planet"s cloud tops.


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