The Solar System consist of many celestial bodies including the sun, planets, stars and much much more. There are plenty facts you might not know about our beautiful solar system. For example, if you don’t already know, we are living on the planet Earth. There are even more things you might not know. So, here are 10 amazing facts about our solar system.
10. Dark Energy & Dark Matter
‘Dark energy’ and ‘Dark matter’ is a term used by astronomers to refer to unidentifiable energy and matters. But how do they know this it even exist in the first place? This is because of the astonishing properties of space and its never ending expansion. It is being estimated that about 68% of the universe is made up of dark energy and 27% made up of dark matter while less than 5% is normal matter (Identifiable matters). Discovery of this dark energy comes from many theories including Einstein’s gravity theory, the quantum theory of matter and explanations that it is a new kind of dynamical energy fluid or field while evidence of dark matter includes the unlikeliness of every visible matter to make up the 27%, ruling out baryonic clouds (Dark clouds of normal matters) and antimatter. If you are interested, you could read up more about this in the links below.
09. Largest Ocean
Apart from being the largest planet in out solar system, Jupiter also has the largest ocean in the solar system. Of course it does! Jupiter is also known as the gas giant, and it gain that nickname by the fact that it is made up mainly of gases, primarily hydrogen and helium. The fifth planet in our solar system is two and a half times more massive than all the other planets combined with a diameter of about 140 000 Km. In addition, it has 67 known moon, Ganymede being the largest while it is believed there are more waiting to be discovered. Due to the planet mass and composition, pressure rises such that hydrogen gas is expected to turn to liquid, explaining how this planet holds the record for the largest and deepest ocean in the solar system.
08. Hottest Planet
We would all expect that the hottest planet would be the one nearest to the sun, Mercury. But actually no, the hottest planet is really the second planet furthest from the sun which is Venus. The Earth sister planet, Venus has a temperature of a blazing 500 degrees Celsius. Mercury despite being nearest to the sun, does not actually have an atmosphere surrounding it. As atmosphere helps to hold and trap heat, Mercury is not able to retain the direct heat from the sun. So, heat radiated from the sun to Mercury would just floats off back into space while its neighboring planet, Venus has an atmosphere, made up of Carbon Dioxide gas which aids in trapping heat from the sun that is not lose into space.
07. Largest Star
UY Scuti if you don’t already know is the largest star ever discovered. Yes even bigger then our most familiar star, the Sun. The size of the Sun as we should know, is a staggering 1 400 000 Km. Discovered in the 1860s, the largest known star is 1 708 Solar radii which is equivalent to 1 188 000 000 Km or 849 suns. Also, it is located 2.9 kiloparsecs or 9 500 light years away from us and thus, we cannot see it with our naked eye despite being the largest star. Although it is the largest known star, it is actually not the most luminous, a record currently held by R136a1, said to be 94 000 times brighter than the sun and 25 times brighter than UY Scuti. It is believe that due to the gravity and radiation balace in the core, the UY Scuti would result in a core collapse supernova.
06. Mass of the Solar System
Spanning at 1.4 million Km, our largest visible star, the Sun takes up most of the mass of the solar system at about 99.8%. The rest of the percentages goes to the planets, satelites, comets, dust and gas. 0.135% of the remaining mass is taken up by all the 9 planets including the dwarf planets, Pluto, the lightest of all the planets. Just among the planets, Jupiter and Saturn together makes up the most mass of about more than 90% of the total planet mass, Jupiter being the heavier of the two, 1/1000 of the sun mass. And the rest of the solar system mass goes to the satellites, asteroid etc. Despite the Sun large mass, it only takes up one one trillionth of a percent of the solar system volume. This is equivalent to if the sun were the size of a white blood cell in a solar system the size of the United States. Here is a list of the mass of the Sun and the planets.
05. Planet Rings
We were taught the prominent feature of Saturn of which was the seven group of rings around it. Four of which is the main groups and the other three is the fainter rings. However, not many knows that actually other planets, apart from Saturn has rings around it. This is because the rings of other planet are not as visible as Saturn’s when observed from Earth, it requires Discovered in 1979, Jupiter ring are made up of dust from the moons around. Jupiter ring system is made up of a Halo ring, Main ring and two faint, thick Gossamer ring. Another gas giant, Uranus, also has a ring system which is believed to be formed not more than 600 million years ago. These rings are formed as a result of fragmentation left by the moons after collision. Neptune too has its own ring system, which comprises of six dark rings believed to be a result of organic compounds processed by radiations.
04. We weigh less on the moon
Due to gravity, we would actually weigh less standing on the moon then on earth. What is gravity? Gravity is a natural force which brings all things with mass towards each other. On Earth, it is this gravitational pull (9.80665m/s²) that keep us rooted to the ground instead of floating out into space. Gravity varies among celestial bodies such that the smaller ones has lower gravitational force while it is higher on large planets such as Jupiter and Saturn meaning we would weigh more if we visit this planets. On the moon however, the gravitational force is six times weaker than that of Earth. This is the reason astronauts are seen floating around when walking on the moon. Keep in mind mass is still the same while the weight varies due to the gravitational pull. This could be easily understood based on the formula Weight = Mass x Gravitational pull. As the gravitational pull is proportional to the weight, lower gravity would result in lower weight.
03. Jupiter significance
Known for the Great Red spot along its body, Jupiter plays an important role in protecing the Earth. This silent defender actually prevents asteroid from crashing into Earth by sucking up ‘space garbage’ or space debris. It is unconfirmed yet if this was due to the Great Red Spot but we do know that the giant gas planet was able to do so due to its large gravitational pull as previously explained briefly. This prevents any asteroid or comets from entering the inner Solar System, shielding Earth and life in it from collisions of this space rocks. Despite this magnetic pull by Jupiter it would be less likely that an asteroid would crash onto Earth, it is still possible. Recently, Earth had a near miss with an asteroids as big as a passenger aircraft which was really close to Earth and only detected three days after it passed Earth.
02. There are more than 5 Dwarf Planets
Very sure everyone knows Pluto which was reclassified as a Dwarf planet back in 2006. And if you don’t already there are four more less popular dwarf planets which includes Eris, Haumea, Makemake and Ceres. Eris is the largest of the five with a diameter 2 362 Km while Ceres is the smallest with a diameter of 952.4 Km. The status of Pluto was questioned when astronomers discovered Haumea which was a dwarf planet larger than Pluto. Apart from the 5 dwarf planets already discovered, astronomers estimated that there is a possibility of over 200 dwarf planets in the solar system. This is because of unidentified celestial bodies that floats in the same region as Pluto, the Kuiper belt. On top of that, there already are over 200 proposed dwarf planets, some of which includes Quoara, Sedna, Orcus and Salacia but status of it is still to be confirmed.
01. We live inside the Sun
Yes we do live inside the Sun! Well, not literally we would have be burned to nothing if we really live inside the Sun. Actually, the sun too has its own atmosphere and it extends as far as the orbit of Pluto. What is atmosphere? It is a layer of gas surrounding a planet held in place by the gravitational pull of said planet. The Sun’s atmosphere is composed of several layers, primarily the photosphere, chromosphere and the corona. The photosphere is the lowest layer and itself range to as far as 500 Km. The second layer is the chromosphere, unlike the photosphere, the further you are from the Sun in the chromosphere layer the hotter you will feel. The Corona is the outermost layer and the layer we are in. Due to the Earth distance to the Sun, it takes only eight minutes for light from the Sun to reach use as sunlight.
There you go 10 amazing facts about the solar system. Are there anymore that you know and not on the list? Surely there is more that is not listed up there. If you like whats up high above the sky you might also like what is down beneath the Earth, do check out 10 Mysterious Ancient Artifacts