Gates are an entrance point to a FTL pathway that allows to jump to another Star. Gates are connecting Stars. A player can travel between Stars using a Ship following paths through Gates in FTL mode. FTL flights require Fuel that is acquired using Credits on Stations.
A Star may have several connections with adjacent Stars, so there might be several paths and therefore several Gates — one for each pathway.
Gate may pose limitation on a Ship size or some characteristics as set by a Star governor.
When traveling between gates, travelers needs to be aware of dangers and risks. Thing is, you do not know what is on other side of the gate. Maybe there are a lot of enemy ships just waiting for travelers to attack them and steal their goods.
It is perfeclty normal to see huge amount of players just jumping from one system to another. That way risk of being attacked is amost 0, since groups can defend easly against raiders. Haulers or players who will carry valuable cargo will carefully look and plan path route. Some areas in space are more dangerous, as they can be populated with PVP hungry Corporations or alliances. Some Gates have big strategic value for player as they are often used. If you do not want to use some Gates, you need to go around or