What Is the Composition of Jupiter?


Quick Answer

Jupiter is composed primarily of hydrogen and helium. These gases might enclose a rocky core of heavier elements, but it lacks a well-defined solid surface. The atmosphere contains trace amounts of methane, water vapor, and ammonia.

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Full Answer

Jupiter may have an ocean of liquid hydrogen beneath the gases. It is liquid because of the immense pressures and temperatures so far beneath the planet's surface. The pressure may be so intense that it strips the hydrogen of its electrons and makes it conductive. Above the liquid hydrogen may be a type of hydrogen that is in neither a gaseous nor fluid state.

The predominant gases in Jupiter's atmosphere are approximately 90 percent hydrogen and 10 percent helium. Other trace gases include methane, ammonia, ethanol, water vapor, acetylene, phosphine, carbon monoxide, germanium and tetrahydride. Scientists have discovered traces of hydrogen sulfide, carbon, sulfur, benzene, hydrocarbons and neon. The clouds that cover Jupiter are made of ammonia.

Jupiter has a ring system. The width of the primary ring is approximately to 6,500 kilometers, while the width of the halo ring is approximately 30,500 kilometers. There are also two gossamer rings. All the rings are made of dust particles formed out of pieces of four of Jupiter's moons.

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