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This is a drawing of the evolution of the interior of a giant planet.
Click on image for full size
Image from: The New Solar System

How the Interior of Saturn Formed

The drawing shows how the interior of Saturn may have formed. As the planets drew material from the solar nebula, bits of heavy, solid material accumulated inside the forming planet, as illustrated in figure A.

Once the planet finished forming, these heavy, solid bits of material fell into the center of the planet, as illustrated in figure B. The heavy elements of the planet made up a much smaller portion of the planet than the gaseous elements. Saturn drew a large amount of gas to itself from the nebula because of where Saturn was in the primordial cloud.

Eventually, the heavy, solid material at the center solidified into a core, as illustrated in figure C.

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

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA