Gas Giant

From Traveller Wiki - Science-Fiction Adventure in the Far future
Jump to: navigation, search
Imperial Sunburst-Sun-IISS-Traveller.gif

A Gas Giant is an extremely large planet, primarily composed of gases, and usually with an extensive atmosphere of hydrogen and hydrogen compounds.

  • Starships fuel themselves by diving into this atmosphere and skimming hydrogen from this atmosphere.
  • The planet Jupiter, in the Terra system, is an example of a gas giant.

Description (Specifications)[edit]

Gas giants may have a rocky or metallic core—in fact, such a core is thought to be required for a gas giant to form—but the majority of its mass is in the form of the gaseous hydrogen and helium, with traces of water, methane, ammonia, and other hydrogen compounds.

Planetary Characteristics[edit]

Gas giants do not have a well-defined surface; their atmospheres gradually become denser toward the core, perhaps with liquid or liquid-like states in-between.

  • These deep interior regions may be composed of metallic hydrogen or metallic helium, kinds of degenerate matter that are still fluidic but behave like electrical conductors.

As a matter of practicality, the diameter of a gas giant is generally measured at the mean altitude where the atmospheric pressure equals 1000 millibars. This corresponds to the mean surface pressure of Terra's atmosphere, which is used as a benchmark. This procedure is very arbitrary: a gas giant's atmospheric pressure varies greatly from region to region, and even the smallest gas giant will have thousands of kilometers of complex, stratified "upper" atmosphere above the measuring point.

  • Thus, terms such as diameter, surface area, volume, surface temperature and surface density effectively refer only to the outermost layer visible from space.
  • The third digit of the "PBG" element of the Universal World Profile indicates how many gas giants are present within the star system.

Gas Giant Life[edit]

It is possible for lifeforms (and even NILs) to originate on gas giants

  • Lifeforms that have evolved on gas giants are called jovionoids.

Probable Planetary Orbit & Climate[edit]

Due to the mechanics of system formation, related to the distribution of material within the protoplanetary disk, gas giant worlds most commonly form within the habitable zone and the outer regions of a star system. They are usually found in those regions.

  • Occasionally, celestial mechanics and gravitational forces may cause a gas giant world to migrate inward through the star system. Some, rather than rapidly burning up in the star's photosphere or being flung out of the system, instead settle into a stable orbital position close to the star. These worlds become Hot Jupiters.

The color of a gas giant depends largely on its chemical components and the various compounds and substances that form within it; these stain the atmosphere. Colors typically include white, gray, and shades of blue, green, yellow, orange, brown, tan and red. Gas giants look very different if viewed in different spectra such as IR. Gas giants are most commonly monochrome, mottled or banded. A Hot Jupiter may be incandescent.

The upper layers of a gas giant's atmosphere appear similar to the skies of a terrestrial world: the gas mixture is generally transparent, with vast banks of mountainous clouds divided by abyssal chasms and sporadically lit by the flashes of enormous bolts of lightning. The gas mixture becomes denser and more opaque with depth.

  • Radiation belts, shaped by magnetic fields, surround gas giant worlds. Travelling through radiation belts may cause exposure to dangerous levels of radiation.
  • Huge, spectacular auroras may be seen above the polar regions.
  • Many gas giants produce a great deal of electromagnetic noise across a broad spectrum. This may seriously hamper sensor operations and communications.
  • Wind speeds within the upper atmospheric layers of a gas giant can exceed 600 kph: in some atmospheric layers the local windspeed may exceed the speed of sound. Different atmospheric layers have prevailing winds travelling in different directions: the convergence zones between different atmospheric layers may be extremely turbulent.
  • Different chemicals and compounds may precipitate out of the atmosphere at different depths, temperatures and pressures. They manifest as fogs, rain, sleet, snow, or as heavier solids (typically ices and salts).
  • Individual weather events, such as large storms, can cover millions of km² and last for decades or centuries.

History & Background (Dossier)[edit]

The Solomani sometimes refer to gas giants as a Jovian planet after the planet Jupiter in the Terra system.

Gas Giant Types[edit]

  • Hot Jupiter – a gas giant orbiting close to its star. Hot Jupiters are relatively young in terms of stellar evolution. The energy streaming off of the star gradually strips away their atmospheres, typically reducing them to a dense core remnant within a billion years. The interstellar medium generally has elevated levels of particles spaceward of the Hot Jupiter.
  • Large Gas Giant – gas giant planets composed mainly of hydrogen and helium and with diameters ranging from 60,000 km to 400,000 km.
  • Small Gas Giant – gas giant planets composed mainly of hydrogen and helium and with diameters ranging from 20,000 km to 60,000 km.
    • Ice Giant – a type of small gas giant planet composed mainly of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium, such as oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur. Diameters typically range from 20,000 km to 60,000 km.

References & Contributors (Sources)[edit]

Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Gas_Giant. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. The text of Wikipedia is available under the Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

This article was copied or excerpted from the following copyrighted sources and used under license from Far Future Enterprises or by permission of the author.