The Solar system is one neighbourhood that excites children and adults alike. Believed to be about 4.6 billion years old, this fascinating establishment of a ‘main star’ with various objects orbiting around it appeals to the curiosity in most of us. Typically, the solar system that we know of consists of the ‘Sun’,- the brightest star, eight planets, some dwarf or small planets and a number of other astronomical bodies like asteroids, comets etc. These bodies are characteristically bound in the orbit of the Solar system. The Sun’s powerful ‘Gravitational force’ attracts everything to it.
It’s interesting to understand how planets have come to be where they are. Actually, on the one side, the Sun pulls planets inwards towards it while on the other, the planets are trying to fly away outwards into space due to their rapid movement. The inner and outward pulls causes them to become trapped in between and that’s how they develop their specific orbits.
The Birth Of The Solar System
Though there are diverse theories that compete with each other regarding the formation of the Solar neighbourhood, the seemingly dominating one hints at the collapse of a huge cloud of molecules that led to the birth of this enchanting world up there. Famous as ‘The Big Bang’, this cloud explosion, according to many space scientists must have been spectacular. The mass located at the very centre of this colossal cloud converged into the ‘Sun’ and what was left formed a flat dust- disk around it. This disk later transformed into planets and other bodies. The address of the Solar system would be, Galaxy : Milky Way, Outward Spiral.
All of us have counted them on our fingers sometime or the other. The planets of the Solar system include four ‘Terrestrial planets’ and four ‘Outer planets’.
Terrestrial planets are : 1) Mercury 2) Venus 3) Earth and 4) Mars
They are located inside, close to the Sun and are relatively smaller in size. Primarily composed of materials like rock, metal etc , these planets have their own specific characteristics and appearance.
The Outer planets are : 5) Jupiter 6) Saturn 7) Uranus and 8) Neptune.
These are larger and are also referred to as ‘Gas giants’. They too differ in their appearance and nature.
Interesting Planet Facts
Every planet of the Solar system is an interesting package in itself. The word planet literally means ‘A wandering star’. No tour of the Solar system would be complete without exploring the interesting facts about each planet:
Mercury – Its location is closest to the sun which makes it extremely hot, yet the planet is believed to have traces of ice. If speculations are to be trusted, Mercury has craters at its poles where direct sunlight cannot reach. Here’s where ice may survive!
Venus – Strange, but even though Mercury is closest to the Sun, Venus is thought to be the hottest with surface temperature reaching about 465 degree Celsius. Its atmosphere is thick and manages to trap the Sun’s heat. One can imagine something similar to the ‘Greenhouse effect’.
Earth – This beautiful ‘Green and Blue’ planet is our home, always painting a pretty picture from outer space.
Mars – Both, writers and scientists have been captivated by this rather mysterious planet. The ‘possibility’ of life here has made many filmmakers choose Mars as the subject of their sci-fi movies. Odyssey, the NASA spacecraft first discovered ‘water-ice’ here and opened many avenues of research and speculation.
Jupiter – The planet is truly ‘massive’. Imagine Jupiter’s mass to be about 318 times in comparison to Earth and you may get some idea. The density, however is lower causing the gravitational pull here to be greater. Also, Jupiter has the fastest rate of rotation (speed) amongst the planets, a fact which caused it’s shape to become a little flattened at the ends.
Saturn – Observed by ‘Galileo’ for the very first time, Saturn is known for its ‘rings’. The rings are thin and are formed of countless tiny particles. Perhaps, Saturn’s magnetic field may be responsible for the rings that mesmerize us often.
Uranus – This is the coldest planet and also the only one that rotates on its sides. The temperature here can drop to an alarming -224 degree C, a statistic beyond imagination.
Neptune – This is a ‘windy’ planet with wind speeds reaching up to 2,100 km/hour. The incredible speeds are stronger than the strongest of hurricanes.
There is little doubt in the fact that the Solar System is unique and as amazing as it gets.