How can the Sun have such a strong gravitational field if it's made of gases? (Beginner)

How can the sun have a strong gravitational pull if it's made up of gases and not a solid mass like the earth?

The gravitational field of an object is determined solely by:

1) how massive it is, and 2) how far away from it you are

Whether it's a gas or a liquid or a solid doesn't make any difference. The Sun is a lot more massive than the Earth, and so it has a stronger gravitational field. From our everyday experience, it might not be so obvious that a gas has mass, but it's true. The Sun exerts the same gravitational force on the planets as it would if it had the same mass but was made of rock.

This page was last updated June 28, 2015.

About the Author

Christopher Springob

Christopher Springob

Chris studies the large scale structure of the universe using the peculiar velocities of galaxies.  He got his PhD from Cornell in 2005, and is now a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Western Australia.

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