Gas giant

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A gas giant (sometimes also known as a Jovian planet after the planet Jupiter, or giant planet) is a large planet that is not primarily composed of rock or other solid matter. There are four gas giants in our Solar System: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Many extrasolar gas giants have been identified orbiting other stars.

Planets above 10 Earth masses are termed giant planets.[1] Below 10 Earth masses they are called super earths or, sometimes probably more accurately for the higher mass examples, "Gas Dwarfs" e.g. as suggested by MIT Professor Sara Seager[citation needed] for Gliese 581c using a model where that exoplanet was mostly composed of hydrogen and helium. The term "gas dwarf" was also used previously by others.[2][3]

Objects above 13 Jupiter masses are called brown dwarfs and these occupy the mass range between that of large gas giant planets and the lowest mass stars.

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Description

A gas giant is a massive planet with a thick atmosphere and a solid core. The "traditional" gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn, are composed primarily of hydrogen and helium. Uranus and Neptune are sometimes called ice giants, as they are mostly composed of water, ammonia, and methane ices. Among extrasolar planets, Hot Jupiters are gas giants that orbit very close to their stars and thus have a very high surface temperature. Hot Jupiters are currently the most common form of extrasolar planet known, perhaps due to the relative ease of detecting them.

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