True, Jupiter is not a "rocky planet" but it does have a hard surface made of metal. Why is it considered a gas planet when it's actually?

a solid planet with a really big atmosphere?

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  • 1 month ago

    Jupiter is called a gas giant because its atmosphere (the only part of Jupiter we can chemically analyze at this time) is made up of 99% hydrogen and helium (gases here on Earth, and certainly in Jupiter's upper atmosphere) and 1% other elements, including carbon, silicon, and sulfur compounds.

    The rest of Jupiter (below the part of the atmosphere that we can chemically analyze) is also made of Hydrogen and Helium and 1% other elements, about like the Sun.

    Astronomers are used to thinking of the universe and its stars being composed (its baryonic matter and electrons part) almost completely of Hydrogen and Helium. All the rest of the baryonic matter such as oxygen, silicon, iron, sodium, calcium, and all the rest is simply referred to as "metals" by astronomers. In this same simplistic manner, Jupiter and Saturn are called gas giants, even though they certainly realize that they contain at least 1% "metals".

    Jupiter's interior gets denser the deeper you go, of course, and at some point, the hydrogen becomes 'metallic hydrogen'. It is Not called metallic because it is hard and shiny like silver, but instead it's called metallic because its electrons are no longer tied to 'their' protons, but are instead free to flow through the substance like in metals here on Earth that conduct electricity because their electrons are not tied to 'their' individual atomic nuclei, and therefore can flow. This high-pressure environment metallic hydrogen deep within Jupiter is a liquid, not a hard shiny metal, but it's a liquid in which the electrons are free to flow, and this is probably why Jupiter has such a huge magnetic field.

    So, back to your question, 

    1) Jupiter is likely, at its core, Rocky, with silicon, iron, carbon, and other stuff that's not hydrogen and not helium down there as a rocky lump of stuff. So far, it's unknown how much such material is down there.

    2) Jupiter might have hard solid hydrogen somewhere near its center, but so far, there's no confirmation that solid hydrogen could even exist in Jupiter, but liquid hydrogen definitely can exist in Jupiter. As mentioned above, the large amount of metallic hydrogen in Jupiter is a liquid.

    So, Jupiter is simplistically called a 'gas giant'. The term 'gas giant' is merely a planetary classification term, not a term that's meant to be 100% chemically accurate.

    Similarly, Uranus and Neptune are referred to by astronomers as 'ice giants', even though their composition is not 100% frozen H2O (far from it).

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  • 1 month ago

    The Solid Core of Jupiter has not been proven yet

    So Far they surmise a Metallic Hydrogen liquid below the clouds

    Any Actual Core is bound to be so Dense it is practically Diamond

    Attachment image
    Source(s): She really is a big Girl !!
    • Ronald 7
      Lv 7
      1 month agoReport

      Earth would probably fit into one of those two white spots near to the GRS

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  • 1 month ago

    Venus is the more interesting one in that respect because it's basically got a gaseous surface with a hot interior we think of as the surface.

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  • 1 month ago

    Gas giant because it is (make a guess) very large and unusually gas-rich in composition.  this does not mean that it is totally gaseous any more than earth is all rock even though it is a rocky planet.

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  • Clive
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    Wrong. Nobody knows what kind of surface it has or even if there is one.

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  • 1 month ago

    What many people do not seem  understand is that when the core of a gas or ice  planet that has a global magnetic field differentiates chemically, iron nickel and sulfur settle to form the inner core of ALL planets because iron has the highest specific GRAVITY if the 10 most common elements in the Milky Way galaxy. Metallic hydrogen cannot form  core. Hydrogen, whatever phase it is in, has the lowest specific GRAVITY. Ignore the DENSITY, because implies volume by definition. The dipole moment of if Jupiter's magnetic field is 25,000 or more times greater than Earth's relatively puny dipole moment of 0.9 nanoteslas which is slowly decreasing in strength. In addition, metallic hydrogen is electronically degenerate. The electrons are not bound to the protons and proto. And neutron of deuterium. . the electrical currents are running in all directions and are dynamic and constantly shifting. 

    Electrical engineers and other scientists seem not to have all their facts coordinated with each other. This is why I think physicists and engineers really should be required to take four or five geology courses and at  least one geophysics course as pre and corequisites. As a geology major,  I was required to take both semesters of general chemistry and introductory physical, calculus,, physical and historical geology, mineralogy and petrology and structural geology. When I attempted to earn an M.S. on geophysics, 5 semesters of calculus required, not 2 or 3 semesters. If you can't coordinate the facts logically and critically, whether ypu consider gas and ice giant planets to be solid or gas becomes trivial, an off topic  argument  about semantics and terminology and miscommunication because you don't agree on the definitions of words.  

    I plead guilty of going into rant, lecture mode. I expect a lot of thumb downs  on this answer. 

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  • 1 month ago

    It's about the composition, not whether it's all in gas phase. Jupiter is mostly hydrogen and helium by mass. Also metallic hydrogen is probably liquid, not solid. 

    Similarly the "ice giants" Uranus and Neptune aren't all solid, they are mostly made of ices: water, methane, ammonia, etc.

    Basically, astronomers have peculiar uses of terms like these (gas, ice, metal) that aren't the same as in physics and chemistry, or everyday usage.

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  • Will
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    There has never been solid evidence, no pun intended, that Jupiter has a solid core. What you are referring to is the possibility that it has a core that may be liquid metallic hydrogen. Meaning the hydrogen is in a state where is acts like an electrical conductor. 

    Gas giants are planets whose compositions are mostly the gases hydrogen and helium. So Jupiter is a gas giant because its overall composition (core and atmosphere) is mostly gases. There is more gas than there is of anything else contributing to Jupiter's physical existence.

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    • Will
      Lv 7
      1 month agoReport

      I never said it was metal. I said it is in a phase where it acts like an electrical conductor. 

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  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    wrong, jupiter has a solid core but only because of the extreme pressure. The elements of its core are generally gases at normal pressures of space. I believe jupiter is composed of 95% hydrogen and 4% helium if my memory serves me right, if any metal is present in jupiter it's less than 1%

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