Difference Between a Star and a Planet (With Table)

There are different types of celestial bodies suspended in space. These include planets, stars, asteroids, and many other heavenly bodies, each with its unique characteristics. It is easy to get confused and not be able to distinguish between these bodies while looking at them from Earth. But when one observes these objects, the differences become apparent.

Star vs Planet

The main difference between a Star and a Planet is that Stars are glowing bodies that are incredibly hot and produce their light. The incredible heat and light produced by the star are due to the millions of nuclear reactions happening in the star. Planets on the other hand are huge bodies of mass that revolve around a star.

A Star is a celestial body that is incredibly hot and produces light. The light and heat produced by the star are because of the millions of nuclear reactions happening inside the star. A star is essentially a cluster of plasma that has been brought together by its gravitational pull.

A Planet is a huge body of mass that revolves in an orbit around a star. A planet is a massive body of mass and gas and hence it does not produce its light. Planets get their heat and light from an external source, usually the sun. Because of the huge mass of planets, they have their gravitational pull.

Comparison Table Between Star and Planet

Parameters of ComparisonStarPlanet
DefinitionStar is a gigantic heavenly body composed of densely packed hot plasma  The planet is a massive celestial body composed of mass and gases that revolves in an orbit around a star
CharacteristicStars are incredibly hot and they produce their lightPlanets do not produce their light and need an external source for light and heat
SizeAlthough stars look small from Earth, they are immensely huge as compared to planetsPlanets are smaller than stars in size
CompositionStars are largely composed of Hydrogen and Helium, along with trace amounts of metalsPlanets may be solids, liquids, and gaseous, and thus they are composed of different elements, compounds, and other matter
MovementStars travel huge distances and thus their positions change over long periodsPlanets have their orbit of revolution around a star and they also rotate in their axis.

What is Star?

A Star is an incredibly huge celestial body that is composed of densely packed plasma and emits its light. The plasma inside a star is largely composed of Hydrogen and Helium, with trace amounts of metals and other elements. Thus because of the dense packing of stars, the Hydrogen and Helium constantly react and cause nuclear explosions inside the star.

These nuclear explosions produce huge amounts of heat inside the star and this produces the light that the stars emit. As the matter inside the star is densely packed, stars have their very strong gravitational pull. Thus stars can attract other bodies because of their incredibly strong gravitational pull. This causes other celestial bodies like planets and asteroids to revolve in orbits around the stars. This collection of planets and other celestial objects revolving in fixed orbits around a star is what is known as a Solar System.

The size of the solar system and the number of objects revolving around a star depends on the size of the star. The greater the size of the star, the greater is the gravitational pull of the star. The light in space is entirely produced by different stars and this light is reflected into space by planets and other bodies after it enters these bodies.

What is Planet?

A Planet is a massive celestial object composed of matter, that could be solid, liquid, or gas. Thus planets are composed of different metals, non-metals, and other elements. Planets do not produce their light. Thus they depend on external sources for light and heat. The heat and light in a planet are produced by stars, in most cases by the sun in a solar system.

Thus the planets in a solar system are dependent on the sun for heat and light. Because of the massive weight of planets, they produce their gravitational force. But, as planets are not nearly as massive in size as stars, this gravitational force is incredibly weak compared to the pull of stars.

Thus, due to the strong gravitational force of stars, planets revolve around stars in fixed orbits of revolution. But the gravitational force of planets is strong enough to attract satellites like the moon, which revolve in their orbits around the planet. Depending on the environment inside the planets, there is the possibility of the presence of life on the planet. But the most important factors for this are the composition of elements inside the planet and the amount of heat that the planet receives.

Main Differences Between Star and Planet

  1. Star is a gigantic celestial body composed of densely packed hot plasma. Planet is a massive celestial body composed of matter that could be solid, liquid or gas.
  2. Stars are incredibly hot and they produce their own light. Plants cannot produce their own light and they depend on stars for light and heat.
  3. Stars are gigantic and are very massive compared to planet. Planets are small compared to stars.
  4. Stars are largely composed of Hydrogen and Helium, with trace amounts of metals and other elements. Planets consist of different types of elements, in different stages and compositions.
  5. Stars travel huge distances but their movement is very slow. Planets revolve around star in defined orbits and also rotate around their own axis.


Space is littered with different types of celestial objects. Because of the huge distance between an observer from Earth and these objects, they may appear tiny in size and one might not be able o distinguish these objects from each other.

But different celestial objects have different characteristics that make them unique and all the more interesting to study.

Stars are incredibly huge celestial objects that are very hot and can produce light. Their tiny appearance is due to the distant position of these objects.

Planets on the other hand are bodies of mass that are very small compared to stars and they revolve around stars in a solar system.


  1. https://www.aanda.org/articles/aa/full/2001/27/aah2744/node2.html
  2. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1086/342982/meta
  3. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1086/339257/meta
  4. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1086/377080/meta
2D vs 3D