The Solar System would have a problem if the atmospheres of the gas giants were stripped away. Image credit: NASA/GSFC/Frank Reddy
Asked by Keith Astley
If an event stripped away most of a gas planet’s atmosphere we’d be in trouble. It would take a large event to rid the giant planets of most of their mass, which could have profound effects on the dynamics of the Solar System. In terms of the planets themselves it is uncertain. Under our current understanding all four of the giant planets are believed to have a small solid core. The rest of the planets are believed to be a large gaseous layer and a large liquid layer. However, this liquid layer is likely only in a liquid state due to the pressure from the gas above. If the gas layer was stripped away, the liquid layer would likely boil away. For this to happen something would need to give these layers enough energy to exceed the pull of the planet’s gravity in order to strip them away.
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