Giant planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune probably formed by nucleated instability (like raindrops around a condensation nucleus), in the earliest stages of the solar system formation. However, their formation process in not certain and many details remain unclear. They contain most of the mass in the solar system outside the sun, and their gravity determines the dynamics of interplanetary bodies, and may have set the architecture of the planetary orbits in an earlier, chaotic epoch.
UCLA research into the giant planets includes in-situ studies of the magnetospheres, considered as probes of the active dynamos, and laboratory simulations of convective heat transport in the UCLA SpinLab lead by Jonathan Aurnou. Other researchers investigate the formation of the giant planets theoretically, focusing on the details of core accretion and attempting to explain the observed over-abundance of metals in Jupiter.