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Understanding Gas Giants

Understanding Gas Giants When we hear the term Gas Giants, our minds race directly to several planets located within our Solar System, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. These planets share several defining characteristics that allow them to be lumped together into the same category. In particular, it is the high percentage of helium and hydrogen within their over-all composition that places them apart from other more terrestrial solar bodies. However, the term Gas Giant is a bit misleading in that it tells us very little about the actual composition of these unique worlds.Gas giants are composed of a high percentage of solid material. Due to the extreme pressure that exists within the core of a gas giant, hydrogen may be converted into a metallic solid or liquid form. Frequently, there are other materials interspersed within this solid matrix as well. Although all gas giants contain high amounts of hydrogen and helium…

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What are Exoplanets?

What are Exoplanets? One of the best-kept secrets of our times is the fact that planets exist outside of our Solar System. Exoplanets are planets orbiting one of the billions of stars we see in the nighttime sky. As our ability to search through the vastness of space increases, we continue to find ourselves faced with an ever-expanding potential of discovering planets that could look and behave a lot like Earth. That's all fine and dandy, but wouldn't you instead impress your friends with your exoplanetary knowledge? Look no further! The History of Exoplanetary Exploration Humans began their interest in exoplanets around the 16th century. The Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno was the first to publicly support the idea based off of his belief in the Copernican theory that Earth and the other known planets of the time were indeed orbiting around the sun. He speculated that this should also be the…

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