1. Science / Technology

What is Our Solar System Called?

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What is our solar system called? It is a tangled web of bodies that orbit the Sun. It is made up of seven outer planets and one inner planet, Pluto. Pluto is the ninth planet, but recent discoveries have revealed other bodies of similar size. These bodies are now known as Trans-Neptunian Objects, or TNOs. Until recent years, the entire system was considered a tangled web of bodies.

The solar system extends from the sun and four inner planets through the asteroid belt, past the four gas giants, and beyond the teardrop-shaped heliopause. Scientists estimate that the solar system’s outer boundary is approximately nine billion miles or fifteen billion kilometers from the sun. The solar system is surrounded by a spherical cloud called the Oort Cloud, which is the outermost space object.

The solar system is composed of the Sun, four terrestrial planets, and their moons. They orbit the Sun counterclockwise. The inner four planets, known as the terrestrial planets, are the largest of the solar system, followed by the asteroid belt, which contains many small asteroids. The outer four planets are composed of hydrogen, helium, and other gas. Pluto is the ninth planet, but is actually tilted 17 degrees off the ecliptic.

In the early solar system, the planets formed by condensing from a hot gas cloud, called a nebula. In the outer regions, however, gases could condense, resulting in the formation of icy moons and asteroids. The solar system began 5 or six billion years ago. But how did it form? We can’t be certain. But the evidence does show that planets shaped our solar system.

The Sun is the largest object in our solar system, with a diameter of 865,000 miles (1,392,000 km) and 99.8% of the system’s mass. The planets orbit the sun in oval-shaped paths, and the sun is slightly off-center of each ellipse. NASA has a fleet of spacecraft observing the sun to better understand its composition and activity. The closest planet to the Sun is Mercury, which orbits the sun the closest.

The small objects in our solar system are referred to as asteroids, meteoroids, and comets. While most asteroids orbit between Mars and Jupiter, some are much larger than these. Some are even smaller. The largest of these are around six hundred miles across, and the others are much smaller. Some even burn up in the sky like glowing meteors. We have no idea how many asteroids are out there!

After Copernicus’ geocentric model, it was thought that the planets would orbit the Sun in perfect circles. The geocentric model was a complex one, with the planets moving in circular paths and sometimes making mistakes. But Copernicus’ heliocentric model was much simpler, and it matched observations perfectly. It is the most widely accepted model today. And it has a fascinating history. You should read up on it and explore it for yourself.



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