What Are The Two Main Differences Between Pluto And The Gas Giants?

Last Updated on March 19, 2022 by QCity Editorial Stuff

Pluto, a dwarf planet in the solar system, has been the subject of debate for many years. The main question is whether or not Pluto should be classified as a gas giant or if it belongs to another category altogether. This article will explore the two main differences between Pluto and gas giants, with an emphasis on how these features are related to where they belong within classification categories. 

The first difference is size; while Jupiter’s radius is 142,400 km and Saturn’s radius is 120,536 km, Pluto’s radius only reaches 4778 kilometers – that means that if you were to put all three planets side by side at their respective radii from the center point to surface point – Jupiter would take up about 3/4 of the total area, Saturn would take up about 1/8 of the total area, and Pluto would take up a bit less than 1/30th of the total area.

The solar system consists of eight planets and one dwarf planet. Of these nine bodies, Pluto is the smallest with a mass of only .07% that of Earth’s. Pluto also has an extremely elliptical orbit (its farthest point from the sun is over 50 AU) which causes it to spend most of its time in the Kuiper belt—a region outside Neptune populated by thousands of icy objects. Despite being so small and spending most of its time away from our star, Pluto still manages to be very interesting because it has two main differences from all other large planetary bodies.

Comparison Between Pluto And The Gas Giants?

Parameters of ComparisonPlutoGas giants
Smaller Smaller Giant 
Made up Pluto has a rocky surfaceJupiter and Saturn are mostly made up of gases.
Rotate Pluto rotates on its axis in a circular motiongas giants rotate in an elliptical orbit
Ring No ring Has ring 
Thinner Much Thinner Less thinner 

What Is Pluto?

What Is Pluto

Pluto may be small, but it is full of mysteries. It was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, and named after the Roman god of the underworld. For many years Pluto was considered to be a planet despite its size because it had an orbit similar to that of planets orbiting our Sun. However, since 2006 when Eris was discovered astronomers have decided that there are too many objects orbiting our sun for them all to be considered planets so they have made another category called dwarf planets which Pluto falls into along with Eris and several other large objects now being discovered around our solar system.

Pluto is a dwarf planet that orbits around the sun. It is the ninth and most distant planet from the sun in our solar system, and it has at least five moons: Charon, Nix, Hydra, Kerberos, and Styx. Pluto was previously classified as a planet but was reclassified as a “dwarf” planet. 

Pluto’s orbit is highly eccentric-it can be anywhere between 29.7 astronomical units (AU) from earth to 49 AU away-and takes 248 years for one revolution around the sun.

What Are Gas Giants?

A gas giant is a planet that is primarily made of hydrogen and helium. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are all examples of gas giants. They are significantly more massive than the Earth but significantly less dense because they have no solid surface to speak off. Despite this fact, it has been estimated that if you were to travel far enough into these planets you would reach the core which consists largely of various metals such as nickel, iron, and silicates (Earth’s crust). These outer layers (or gaseous envelope) act as fluid due to their high temperatures; this means that they flow over time scales set by convection currents in the interior.

Gas giants are the most massive of all the planets in our solar system, and often they can be found orbiting next to smaller gas giant planets. The two largest gas giants within our solar system are Jupiter and Saturn. They differ from other types of planets because they do not have a solid surface like Earth does; instead, their cores consist mainly of liquid hydrogen and helium. 

The difference between these two is that Jupiter has a much larger radius than Saturn. This means it also contains more mass than Saturn which makes it three times as heavy as Earth’s moon! Gas giants such as these possess many interesting features such as storms called “Great Red Spots” on Jupiter or rings around its satellites on Saturn.

10 Differences Between Pluto And The Gas Giants

1. Pluto is smaller than the gas giants.

2. Pluto has a rocky surface while Jupiter and Saturn are mostly made up of gases.

3. Pluto rotates on its axis in a circular motion, while all the gas giants rotate in an elliptical orbit.

4. There are no rings around Pluto. 

5. The atmosphere on Pluto is much thinner than that of any other planet.

6. The temperature range on the surface of Mercury ranges from 800 degrees Fahrenheit to -280 degrees Fahrenheit, but there’s only one temperature range for planets with atmospheres.

7. Pluto is a dwarf planet while the gas giants are not.

8. Pluto has an atmosphere, but it’s very thin and consists mostly of nitrogen.

9. The gas giants don’t have atmospheres at all; they’re made up of hydrogen and helium. 

10. All four gas giants can be seen with the naked eye, unlike Pluto which is too small to see without magnification.

Interesting Statistics Or Facts Of Pluto 

1. Pluto is the only planet in our solar system that is smaller than Earth.

2. Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh on February 18, 1930.

3. The average temperature of Pluto’s surface ranges from -390 to -230 degrees Fahrenheit (-235 to -140 Celsius).

4. There are many craters on the surface of Pluto because it has been hit by other objects over its lifetime.

5. The atmosphere on Pluto consists mainly of nitrogen, methane, and carbon monoxide.

6. It takes 6 days for light from the Sun to reach the surface of Pluto (the same amount of time it would take for an object traveling at 186,000 miles per hour).

Interesting Statistics Or Facts Of Gas Giants

1. Gas giants are composed mostly of hydrogen and helium.

2. The largest gas giant in our solar system is Jupiter, followed by Saturn.

3. Uranus has the most moons out of all the gas giants with 27 moons.

4. Neptune’s moon Triton was discovered in 1846 by William Lassell.

5. A gas giant can have rings like a planet or be without any rings at all. 

6. All four outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) are gas giants.

Conclusion About The Differences Between Pluto And The Gas Giants

The gas giants are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. These planets have no solid surface – they’re made up of gases that form clouds or atmospheres. They also don’t have a definite shape because the atmosphere is constantly changing due to storms in these areas which can alter their appearance at any given time. Because there’s no surface on these planets, it makes sense why there would be an absence of plate tectonics too – since plates need to move across landmasses for earthquakes and volcanoes to occur! It’s not possible without some kind of crust (an area where rock covers most of the planet). 


Resource 01: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/dwarf-planets/pluto/overview/
Resource 02: https://www.lpi.usra.edu/education/space_days/activities/gasGiants/aboutGasGiants.pdf

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