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This is a drawing that shows the history of the inside of a giant planet.
Click on image for full size
Image from: The New Solar System

How the Interior of Neptune Formed

The drawing shows a possible history of the inside of giant planets.

As the planets drew material from the solar cloud, bits of heavy rock collected inside the forming planet, as shown in figure A.

Once the planet finished forming, these heavy bits of rock fell into the middle of the planet, as illustrated in figure B.

As shown in the picture, the gas part of the planet is much bigger than the rocky part. That is because the amount of gas and ice which came to Neptune in the beginning, depended upon where Neptune was in the original solar cloud.

Eventually, the heavy, rocky material at the center became a core, as illustrated in figure C.

Leftover heat from this process of Neptune's forming may still influence the motions in Neptune's atmosphere.


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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF