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Inner and outer planets of the solar system: characteristics and differences

In the Solar System, the inner planets are those that are located closer to the Sun, while the outer planets are those that are further away from it. The inner planets are Earth, Mars, Venus and Mercury, and the outer planets are Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus.

But in addition to its location with respect to the Sun, the inner and outer planets have other characteristics and differences. If you are interested in astronomy and know a little more about what our universe is like, in the following article on EcologíaVerde we will tell you all about the inner and outer planets of the solar system: characteristics and differences .


Inner planets: characteristics and examples

The inner planets are those that are closest to the Sun. But why do we call them inner and outer? What marks the line of what is inner and what is outer. The reality is that the line that marks the inner planets from the outer is the asteroid belt , a kind of ring formed by a multitude of astronomical objects, most asteroids. Below we explain what are the inner planets .

Examples of inner planets

  • Mercury : this is the smallest lower planet, also the one closest to the Sun. That is why temperatures are very high, which makes it impossible to have an atmosphere. For the same reason, we can discard the possibility of living life.
  • Venus : beyond the Sun and the Moon, Venus is the planet that shines the most in our sky. Although it is not the planet that orbits closest to the sun, it is Mercury, Venus is the hottest planet, with a surface completely covered by lava. On that planet there is a great volcanic activity, which has created a very dense atmosphere that makes it impossible to directly observe the planet.
  • Earth : it is the only planet that currently has all the characteristics so that there can be life. The Earth has an atmosphere composed of nitrogen and oxygen, huge masses of water and a great climatic variation that favors life.
  • Mars : has an almost imperceptible atmosphere, which causes that it can not retain the solar radiation and that there are temperature variations of more than 100ºC. As a curiosity, on Mars we find the highest volcano in the Solar System, Olympus, which is more than 25 kilometers high.

Characteristics of the inner planets

Besides sharing a certain location with respect to the Sun, the inner planets share certain characteristics, for example, their size, the composition of their atmosphere or the composition of their nucleus. Here we explain the characteristics of the inner planets :

  • In comparison with the outer ones, the inner planets are small.
  • The inner planets have a high density, between 3 and 5 g / cm³.
  • The inner planets are also known as rocky, since their surface is formed by silicates, that is, the minerals that form the rocks.
  • The inner planets have a rotation on their slow axis. For example, that of Mars and Earth is 24 hours, while for Venus it is 243 days and Mercury is 58 days.
  • They are also known as telluric planets, since their nucleus is formed by stone or rock.
  • The only ones that have atmosphere are Mars, Venus and the Earth, and they all emit less energy than they receive from the Sun.

Outside planets: characteristics and examples

The outer planets are those that are farthest away from the Sun, they are located beyond the asteroid belt. The outer planets are also known as giant planets, since they are larger. On the other hand, their atmospheres tend to be much denser than those of the inner planets. Due to the fact that their composition is gas, they are also known as gaseous planets. Here we explain what are the outer planets :

Examples of outer planets

  • Jupiter : is the closest to the Sun of the outer planets, also, it is the largest planet in the Solar System, in fact, its matter is greater than that of the rest of the planets together. It has 17 satellites and a ring system that is invisible from Earth.
  • Saturn : it is the second largest planet in the Solar System, besides, it is the only one with rings that can be observed from our planet. It has more than 25 satellites, for example Titan, the only satellite in our system that has a remarkable atmosphere.
  • Uranus : with a tenuous blue surface due to the high amount of methane, Uranus is the only planet that rotates on its side, that is, it spins in its own orbit.
  • Neptune : is the planet farthest from the Sun in the whole system. Its surface is ravaged by very strong winds and has 13 satellites, Triton being the largest of them. It also has rings, however, from Earth they are very difficult to distinguish.

Characteristics of outer planets

The outer planets not only share the fact that they are further away from the sun, they also have some common characteristics such as their composition, atmosphere or size. Here we explain the characteristics of the outer planets :

  • Although they are further from the Sun, they are all within the solar system.
  • The outer planets are also known as gaseous planets , since they do not have a solid surface.
  • The outer planets are also known as giant planets , since their size is much larger than that of the inner planets.
  • Most planets discovered outside our system have a composition similar to that of the outer planets.
  • The magnetic fields of the outer planets are very high.
  • They are also known as Jovian planets , a name that comes from Jupiter.
  • The outer planets have a rotation on their axis very fast , for example, Jupiter does it in less than 10 hours, Saturn does not arrive at 11 hours, Neptune something more than 16 hours and Uranus almost 17 and a quarter hour.
  • In the orbits of the outer planets we find many rings and satellites .
  • The nuclei of Neptune and Uranus are made up of ice.

Inner and outer planets: differences

Now that you know what they are and their characteristics, next we explain the differences between inner and outer planets :

  • The inner planets are also considered rocky planets, since their surface is solid. For its part, the outer planets are called gaseous planets because that is their surface.
  • The inner planets are planets of small size, while the planets are called giant planets because their size is much larger.
  • The inner planets have a slow rotation,.
  • Unlike the outer planets, which have a very fast rotation, the rotation of the lower planets is slow
  • The outer planets have rings and many satellites and moons, unlike the inner planets that do not have rings and have few satellites.
  • The inner planets are also called telluric since their nucleus is very hot. In contrast, the core of the outer planets is ice.
  • Unlike the inner planets, whose atmosphere is composed of helium and hydrogen or nitrogen and CO2, that of the outer planets is composed of helium and hydrogen alone.

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