The objects of the Universe are related to each other, according to forces and dynamics that keep them cohesive, but in movement.
This system of forces and dynamics are known as planetary systems, and among them is our Solar System. The Solar System is our planetary system, where eight planets are in constant orbit around a single star: the Sun.
Other objects are also constituted in our Solar System, like the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, where the dwarf planet Ceres is located; or the so-called Transneptunian Objects, such as the Kuiper Belt, the Dispersed Disk or the Oort Cloud, the latter still of hypothetical existence. There are also four dwarf planets: Haumea, Makemake, Eris and Pluto, the latter considered until recently as a ninth planet.
Characteristics Of Solar System
It is estimated that the origin of the Solar System took place 4568 million years ago, due to the collapse of a molecular cloud in our galaxy, the Milky Way.
This collapse gave rise to a circumstellar or protoplanetary disk, in which a disordered set of matter surrounded the Sun in the form of rings, and thus the different planets formed. It is estimated that the objects of the asteroid belt or the Kuiper Belt are residual elements of this process.
The Solar System is located in the Local Interstellar Cloud, in the Local Bubble of the Orion arm, about 28,000 light years from the center of our galaxy.
At the center of the solar system is the only body that emits its own light of the whole: the Sun. It is a G-type star of the main sequence and brightness class V (a yellow dwarf), constituted for the most part by hydrogen, in a constant state of nuclear fusion, with the presence of other heavier elements such as oxygen, carbon, neon and helium. It is the brightest object of our firmament, so much so that its brightness prevents perceiving any other.
With a total diameter of 1,392,000 kilometers, it contains 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System, which is why all the rest of the contents revolve in orbits around it. It is estimated that the Sun will remain unchanged some 5 billion years more.
3. The planets
There are eight main planets in the solar system, divided into two groups according to their constitution:
The inner planets, closer to the sun and smaller in size, which are Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. They are known as terrestrial or telluric planets because they have a solid surface, similar in density and constitution. The last three have an atmosphere.
The outer planets, located after the asteroid belt that continues to Mars, are giant in proportion and basically gaseous. They are called Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus, and the last two are known as the frozen giants, given their distance from the Sun.
Of all the planets of the Solar System, only Earth is capable of sustaining organic life, although numerous discoveries regarding the surface of Mars point to the possible presence of fossils of bacteria and other signs of life on the “red planet”.
There is also a set of lower planets, called dwarf planets, in which Pluto was included as of 2006. These are Ceres, Makemake, Eris, Haumea and Pluto. These planets have enough mass to have a spherical shape, but not to have attracted or repelled the objects that surround them. They are at an intermediate level between planets and asteroids.
Very recent studies point to the possible existence of a ninth planet, provisionally called Phattie.
4. Satellites and asteroid rings
Another set of objects that make life in the solar system are the asteroids, both in the belt that there is after Mars, and in the one that is after Neptune, and also in the rings that surround the great outer planets.
On the other hand, the big satellites, as is the case of our Moon, or Deimos and Phobos, those of Mars, are much larger entities than the asteroids, trapped in the gravitational field of some larger planet, which they orbit. The outer planets have numerous satellites: Jupiter and Saturn have 63 and 61 respectively, while Neptune and Uranus have 27 and 13. Venus and Mercury have none.
5. Transneptunian objects
The Transneptunian Objects are frozen and distant bodies that are on the far edge of the Solar System. They are difficult to study and observe, given their distance and the little impact that sunlight has on them, but they consist broadly of three sets of matter:
The Kuiper Belt, A set of comet bodies that orbit the Sun, from which short-period comets could be born. Pluto and Charon are considered the biggest objects of this group.
The Disperse Disk, Region whose internal space overlaps the Kuiper Belt and extends away from the sun to an unknown distance. It is assumed populated by an uncertain number of objects, although they are estimated around 90.
The Oort Cloud, a hypothetical spherical cloud of objects, in the confines of the solar system, almost a light-year from the Sun, a hundred times farther than the Kuiper Belt. It is supposed to carry between one and one hundred billion objects, reaching a total mass of five times the terrestrial one.
The eight planets of the Solar System gravitate around the Sun in elliptical orbits, almost circular, of different extensions and at different speeds, according to their respective proportions and natures. This is known as planetary translation movement.
While Earth, for example, takes 365 Earth days (1 year) to complete a solar orbit, other planets take less, such as Mercury (0.24 years) or Venus (0.61); and others, such as Jupiter (5.2), Saturn (9.5) and Neptune (164.7). The orbital theory states that the greater the distance from the Sun, the longer the orbit will be and the lower the speed reached.
The planets always orbit in an anti-clockwise direction.
7. Distance between planets
As it is deduced from the previous item, the planets of the Solar System are positioned in ordered orbits at increasing distances from the sun, at double the distance between each one and the previous one. For the calculation of these lengths the law of Titus-Bode was devised, a mathematical formula that allows to calculate the distance between the Sun and any planet.
Even so, the law is not 100% accurate, since it presents minor discrepancies, particularly with respect to the orbit of Neptune, closer than the formula asserts.
8. Closer celestial objects
The Solar System is located in a secluded and little traveled corner of the galaxy, hence the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is “only” 4.22 light years from the Sun.
Similarly, the Andromeda Galaxy, the farthest object that can be seen from the Earth’s surface and the galaxy closest to ours, resides at 2.5 million light years, although it is in a direct collision course. of 300 kilometers per second.
9. Astronomical models
Since ancient times man has dreamed of glimpsing the order of the universe and has postulated numerous models to understand it. The Greek Anaximander imagined Earth as the center of the universe, around which he orbited the rest, although much later the Pythagorean school would establish the sphericity of the world.
Although there were heliocentric models proposed by oriental and western scholars, it would not be until the arrival in the 13th century of Nicolaus Copernicus that he would initiate a true astronomical revolution, arriving to predict the movements of terrestrial translation and rotation, which would cost him the distrust of the Catholic Church.
The same thing would happen with Galileo Galilei in the 17th century, who based himself on the work of Copernicus and on direct observations with the first telescopes to affirm that the celestial bodies did not orbit the earth, but the other way round: for this reason he was accused of heresy and condemned by the leaders of the Church.
The laws that regulate the orbitation would appear in 1609 from the hand of the German Johannes Kepler, who predicted the transit of Venus in front of the Earth in the year 1631. If we add the development of the concept of gravity and the celestial mechanics of Newton, it will be understood that in 1704 the term Solar System was already coined and there was already a model quite close to the current one, whose greater specificities come from the powerful contemporary instruments of observation, inside and outside the Earth.
10. Future of space exploration
The man arrived in space for the first time in 1961, at the feet of the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, marking the beginning of the so-called “space age” in which man would turn to the exploration of space. Together with the American Apollo missions that arrived on the Moon, they represent the farthest journeys made by any man in history.
Hand in hand with cutting-edge technologies in physics, chemistry, electronics and atomic engineering, however, the measurement of interior and exterior space is increasingly accurate.
Unmanned missions have approached the outer planets and landed on Mars, gathering important information about the origins of the universe and testing our growing understanding of its fundamental laws.