10 Amazing Solar System Facts to Blow Your Mind
Indeed, it’s thrilling to imagine what might exist billions of light-years away in other galaxies. However, to find truly amazing cosmic wonders, you need only look to our own home, the solar system! In fact, we can spot many wonders right in our own backyards through a telescope. Astronimate brings you 10 solar system facts to blow your mind!
10. If Jupiter were around 80 times bigger, it might have been a star!
Jupiter is truly gigantic, we know this. But, did you know, being only 80 times larger could have turned our largest planet into another Sun?!
Indeed, at such a behemoth size, nuclear fusion may have kicked off inside of Jupiter. And, this is the same nuclear-energy-making process occurring in our Sun’s, and all stars’ core.
Fortunately, we’ve dodged a bullet, as two Suns would be genuinely horrific. In fact, double stars would have meant humans never existed on Earth!
9. The world is currently searching for a new ninth planet in our solar system
Obviously, poor little Pluto was bumped down to a dwarf planet. However, a search for a yet-to-be-discovered ninth planet is happening right now! In fact, NASA has even enlisted the general public’s help in the search!
Based purely on mathematical predictions, and odd orbits of distant objects, a ninth planet has been theorized. Thought to be around 10 times Earth’s mass, and orbiting beyond Neptune, the mysterious planet is among astronomy’s biggest focuses in 2017.
Astronimate tells you how to find Planet Nine in this article!
8. Earth is not round
Firstly, we hope you now understand, Earth is not flat. However, most of us may not know it’s also not technically round!
Actually, Earth is considered an oblate spheroid! Simply put, it’s fatter in the middle and more slender at its North and South poles. Basically, it looks like giant hands smashed it from the top and bottom!
Plus, more recent surveys also indicate indenting by the South Pole, and some inflations by the North Pole.
Finally, tall mountain ranges and low valleys only help to give Earth an anything but round shape!
7. Saturn could float in a bathtub!
Yes, ringed planet, Saturn has a remarkably low density. In fact, the planet’s density is similar to gasoline, or lighter woods. But, its possible floating abilities simply mean its density is lower than water. Nevertheless, for a massive planet, this empty density is still quite surprising!
At last, finding a bathtub to test this hypothesis may be an issue, Saturn is over 70,000 miles wide!
6. Our solar system exists in a theoretical ice shell
Far beyond Neptune, or even Pluto, a hypothetical frozen sphere exists, known as the Oort Cloud. Named after its predictor, Jan Oort, the chilly sphere is thought to contain trillions of icy objects. Some objects may be large building-sized comets, or tiny ice pebbles.
But, if we think the Oort Cloud is there, why haven’t we seen it? Simply put, the Oort Cloud likely begins around 464 billion miles from the Sun. Even our farthest spacecraft, Voyager I has only travelled 12 billion miles since 1977. Therefore, making it to the Oort Cloud won’t happen any time soon!
5. Our solar system is surrounded by an ice doughnut
As mentioned above, the Oort Cloud is a sphere. However, a doughnut-shaped region of icy objects also surrounds the solar system, known as the Kuiper Belt.
Think of this flattened region as an icy belt surrounding the solar system. Also, full of trillions of icy objects, like the Oort Cloud, the Kuiper Belt is also quite distant. In fact, the Kuiper Belt begins around 2.7 billion miles from the Sun.
Not to mention, the KB contains planets, including well-known former planet, Pluto!
Finally, making history in 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft reached Pluto, and, in turn the Kuiper Belt, becoming the first manmade object to do so.
4. The biggest planets are not necessarily the slowest
As humans, we often associate larger size with slower speed. Sure, this may be true for humans in a foot race. However, planets don’t abide by such laws!
Jupiter, our largest planet spins around its axis in less than half of the time Earth takes . In other words, a single day on Jupiter is only 10 hours! Plus, Saturn’s day is only 11 hours, and Neptune’s only 16.
However, smaller planets like Venus have days lasting over 5,000 hours! Bad news for Monday!
3. Saturn isn’t the only planet with rings!
Indeed, Saturn’s rings make it the most famous of all planet. But, did you know other planets have rings too?
In fact, all four gas giant planets in our outer solar system have ring systems. In other words, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
Clearly, Saturn’s rings are by far the largest. And, other planet’s rings can be extremely faint, even impossible to spot with backyard telescopes. In fact, humans did not know other ringed planets existed until the 1970s!
2. The Sun truly IS the solar system
Yes, we all know from grade school that everything orbits around our Sun. But, did you know that the Sun accounts for over 99% of our solar system’s entire mass? Basically, mass is simple how much stuff something is made of.
In other words, all planets, asteroids, comets and everything else are less than 1% of the solar system!
1. You could never stand on Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus or Neptune
Firstly, you’d never want to stand on these planets, even if you could. They are horribly deadly environments.
However, they are also made of gas, hence their title gas giants. When we see pictures of gas planets they appear round and give the impression that they have dirt and rock-like surfaces, similar to Earth. But, none of these worlds have solid surfaces!
In fact, once you “set foot” on these planets, you’d simply fall, or float inward towards their central cores, inevitably falling to your wild death!