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gas giant

The larger, outer planets that are made up primarily of hydrogen and helium gases.

planetary rings

Dust and small particle of ice and/or metal/rock that orbit the gas giants in a flat, disc-shaped area. Particle sizes range from dust-sized to baseball-sized objects.

Small Solar System Body (SSSB)

All objects that orbit the Sun, other than planets or satellites (moons). This includes asteroids (except Ceres, which is a dwarf planet) and comets.

Dwarf Planet

A celestial body that is (1) in orbit around the Sun, (2) has sufficient mass to form a sphere, (3) has NOT cleared the neighborhood around its orbit, (4) is not a satellite.


(SSB) Mostly stony and/or metallic, irregularly shaped objects that orbit between Mars & Jupiter in the Asteroid Belt. Sizes range from a few meters to hundreds of kilometers in diameter (smaller than planets; generally, larger than comets and meteoroids).


(SSB) Large objects made of ice (water and methane), dust, and rocky/metallic bits. Sometimes called dirty snowballs. Sizes range from 750 m to 20 km and possibly up to 300 km. Generally, smaller than asteroids but larger than meteoroids. Originate in farthest reaches of solar system (Kuiper Belt; Oort Cloud)


Rocky/metallic objects, typically quite small, that originate from comet debris or debris from asteroid collisions.

double planet

A planet/moon system that are close enough in mass that they orbit around each other (the center of gravity is beyond the surface of either planet). Pluto & its "moon" Charon are an example.

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