gas giant

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From gas +‎ giant, coined by American science-fiction writer James Blish and first attested in 1952 in a rewritten version of his 1941 short story "Solar Plexus".[1][2]


gas giant (plural gas giants)

  1. (astronomy) A large planet composed mostly of gaseous hydrogen and helium, along with methane and ammonia; possibly with a solid core.
    • 1954, James Blish, “Solar Plexus”, in Beyond Human Ken, Random House, page 106:
      A quick glance over the boards revealed that there was a magnetic field of some strength near by, one that didn't belong to the invisible gas giant revolving half a million miles away.
    • 2008, BioWare, Mass Effect (Science Fiction), Redwood City: Electronic Arts, →ISBN, →OCLC, PC, scene: Altanorch:
      Altanorch is a small but typical hydrogen-helium gas giant with no outstanding features. Its combination of strong magnetic field and relatively shallow gravity well make it a popular "stopover" world for discharging FTL drive cores.
    • 2013 May-June, Kevin Heng, “Why Does Nature Form Exoplanets Easily?”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3, page 184:
      In the past two years, NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has located nearly 3,000 exoplanet candidates ranging from sub-Earth-sized minions to gas giants that dwarf our own Jupiter.




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  1. ^ Jesse Sheidlower, editor (2001–2024), “gas giant, n.”, in Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.
  2. ^ Jeff Prucher, editor (2007), “gas giant”, in Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction, Oxford, Oxfordshire; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, pages 75–76.