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The Solar System is one of the most complex things known to man. In its most basic description, our solar system is best defined as a series of planets, moons, asteroids, and other celestial bodies that rotate around the Sun, held in place due to the pull of the Sun's gravity. While new discoveries are being made every day in the Solar System, it is chiefly comprised of the Sun in the center, eight planets with a total of 162 moons, three dwarf planets with four moons, and various other bodies. Every planet, with the exception of Earth, is named after a Greek mythological god. They, are, in order from closest to the sun to farthest: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The three dwarf planets are Ceres, Eris, and Pluto. Pluto was recognized as a regular planet up until 2006, when the International Astronomical Union finally decided on a concrete definition for the word, “planet.”
It is still unclear how exactly the Solar System came into being, but the main theory proposed by Immanuel Kent in 1755 is still the most popular: the idea holds that a serious of giant, violent, explosions were formed by a gravitational collapse of a gas-filled cloud over 4.6 billion years ago. The shockwave of this explosion created the billions of stars that are in the sky, and one of the largest shockwaves created what we now know as the Sun; a massive, gas-filled, burning star that continually reacts with gases that create nuclear fusion, which produces radioactivity and light.
The planets were formed by the rest of the clouds and loose particles from the massive explosions, merely by colliding with one another over a series of millions and millions of years. Gradually, the planets closest to this new massive star – the Sun – grew too hot to be able to handle the accumulation of water. Earth was at a perfect distance from the Sun to able to handle the growth of molecules and the accumulation of water, but not far enough to be past what is called the Frost Line – the point in the Solar System where very little to no heat is reached from the Sun, creating an environment where it was too cold for molecules to grow and where water always turns into ice. After 100 million years, it is believed that the nuclear fusion of the Sun produced a giant solar wind which blew across the galaxy, causing all other particles to be blown into the far regions of space; this event ended the creation of new planets.
There are four inner planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars – which are actually very small in size and are made primarily of the particles that collided with one another during the early stages of the Solar System. Mercury, which is closest to the Sun, is only about a fifth of the size of Earth, while Earth and and Venus are about the same size. Mars is about ¼ the size of Earth.
Past this, the Outer Planets are found to be the largest in the Solar System, and are believed to be composed mostly of ice in the center and of gases (many of which are toxic to humans) on the outer levels. Jupiter and Saturn are the largest of these planets, and are called “The Giant Planets.” Over 318 Earths can fit into Jupiter, and 95 Earths could fit into Saturn. Uranus can hold just 14 Earths, while Neptune, the farthest of the planets, can hold 17 Earths.
None of this includes the billions of stars, comets, and other celestial bodies that are in rotation in our Solar System. Every day, new discoveries are being made by scientists around the world, using ever-more powerful space telescopes and satellite technology.
- Solar System 7 x 10 Download $9.95
- Solar System 7 x 10 Printed Kit $11.95