what-solar-system-are-we-in

What Solar System Are We In?

tl;dr: check out our How Big is our Solar System Infographic.

Well, the answer is kind of anti-climatic…

What Solar System Are We In?

the name of our solar system is just that; Solar System.

The origin of the word “solar” comes from the Latin word sōl, which literally means Sun. Our solar system is a system of objects that orbit around our home star; the Sun.

Our solar system formed roughly 4.6 billion years ago from a gravitational collapse of a giant interstellar molecular cloud. Here’s a beautiful picture of a molecular cloud in the Taurus constellation, roughly 430 light years from Earth.

 

taurus-molecular-cloud

Photo by Stuart Rankin https://flic.kr/p/pDT4Lx

 

You wouldn’t want to be anywhere near a molecular cloud, their temperatures can range between 10 and 50 degrees Kelvin. I know, I know, that doesn’t sound like it’s very cold. However, 10 to 50 degrees Kelvin is actually -441 to -369 degree Fahrenheit.

What Makes Up Our Solar System?

Some people think our solar system is merely the Sun and the 8 (or 9, if you’re a Pluto fan) Planets that orbit around it. However, there’s actually a whole lot more that makes up the place in the Universe which we call home.

As of late, we include the following 6 objects to make up the Solar System we call home:

  1. Our Star
  2. The Planets
  3. The Dwarf Planets
  4. The Planet’s Moons
  5. Asteroids
  6. Comets

What’s the Recipe for the Solar System We’re In?

  • 1 Star
  • 8 Planets
  • 5 Dwarf Planets
  • 173 Moons
  • 688,885 Asteroids
  • 3,355 Comets
Check out the Solar System Scorecard here.

 

what-solar-system-are-we-in

Photo by This Is Yu https://flic.kr/p/kPRjw

 

What is an Astronomical Unit?

Our solar system gives birth to one of the most fundamental measurements in Astronomy, the Astronomical Unit.

1 Astronomical Unit is equivalent to the distance from the Sun to the Earth; roughly 150,000,000 kilometers.

150,000,000 kilometers converts to roughly 92,955,807 miles, most people just say 93 million miles to make it easier.

What are the Sizes of the Objects in our Solar System?

Our Solar System is so amazing, but the objects within our Solar System will amaze you even more!

Here is the distance of each major object in our Solar System and how many Earth masses each object make up.

 

solar-system-objects

Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center https://flic.kr/p/mp8LAV

 

The Sun:

  • 0 Astronomical Units from the Sun
  • 332,900 Earth Masses

Mercury:

  • 0.4 Astronomical Units from the Sun
  • 0.055 Earth Masses

Venus:

  • 0.7 Astronomical Units from the Sun
  • 0.815 Earth Masses

Earth:

  • 1 Astronomical Units from the Sun
  • 1 Earth Masses

Mars:

  • 1.5 Astronomical Units from the Sun
  • 0.107 Earth Masses

Asteroid Belt:

  • 2.3 and 3.3 Astronomical Units from the Sun
  • 0.001 Earth Masses

Cares

  • 2.7 Astronomical Units from the Sun
  • 0.00015 Earth Masses

Jupiter:

  • 5.2 Astronomical Units from the Sun
  • 318 Earth Masses

Saturn:

  • 9.5 Astronomical Units from the Sun
  • 95 Earth Masses

Uranus:

  • 19.2 Astronomical Units from the Sun
  • 14 Earth Masses

Neptune:

  • 30.1 Astronomical Units from the Sun
  • 17 Earth Masses

Pluto:

  • 39 Astronomical Units from the Sun
  • 0.00218 Earth Masses

Eris:

  • 68 Astronomical Units from the Sun
  • 0.0028 Earth Masses

Oort Cloud:

  • Possibly 2,000 to 200,000 Astronomical Units from the Sun
  • Possibly 5 to 380 Earth Masses

How Long Would it Take to Travel Within our Solar System?

Let’s say that you wanted to travel within our Solar System, you’d want proper transportation; let’s use the Space Shuttle as our means of getting around since your magic school bus is in the shop for repairs.

The Space Shuttle travels at roughly 28,000 miles per hour, which means in 24 Earth hours (the equivalent to a single Earth day), you’d travel 672,000 total miles.

That’s incredible! The Earth’s circumference is 24,901 miles, so you’d be able to travel around the Earth (at its surface) 26.9 times in a single day!

Let’s assume you start from the center of our Solar System; the Sun and begin traveling to each object in the Solar System on the Space Shuttle – how long would it take you to get there?

 

space-shuttle

Photo by Matthew Simantov https://flic.kr/p/7Bu5KB

 

Mercury:

  • 37,182,322 Miles from the Sun
  • 55 days travel time from the Sun on the Space Shuttle
  • 0.15 year travel time

Venus:

  • 65,069,065 Miles from the Sun
  • 96 days travel time from the Sun on the Space Shuttle
  • 0.26 year travel time

Earth:

  • 92,955,807 Miles from the Sun
  • 138 days travel time from the Sun on the Space Shuttle
  • 0.38 year travel time

Mars:

  • 139,433,710 Miles from the Sun
  • 207 days travel time from the Sun on the Space Shuttle
  • 0.57 year travel time

Asteroid Belt:

  • 213,798,356 and 306,754,164 Miles from the Sun
  • 318 to 456 days travel time from the Sun on the Space Shuttle
  • 0.87 to 1.25 years travel time

Cares

  • 250,980,679 Miles from the Sun
  • 373 days travel time from the Sun on the Space Shuttle
  • 1.02 years travel time

Jupiter:

  • 511,256,940 Miles from the Sun
  • 760 days travel time from the Sun on the Space Shuttle
  • 2.08 years travel time

Saturn:

  • 883,080,169 Miles from the Sun
  • 1,314 days travel time from the Sun on the Space Shuttle
  • 3.6 years travel time

Uranus:

  • 1,784,751,499 Miles from the Sun
  • 2,656 days travel time from the Sun on the Space Shuttle
  • 7.28 years travel time

Neptune:

  • 2,825,856,541 Miles from the Sun
  • 4,205 days travel time from the Sun on the Space Shuttle
  • 11.52 years travel time

Pluto:

  • 3,625,276,483 Miles from the Sun
  • 5,395 days travel time from the Sun on the Space Shuttle
  • 14.78 years travel time

Eris:

  • 6,320,994,894 Miles from the Sun
  • 9,406 days travel time from the Sun on the Space Shuttle
  • 25.77 years travel time

Oort Cloud:

  • 185,911,614,546 and 18,591,161,454,605 Miles from the Sun
  • 276,654 to 27,665,419 days travel time from the Sun on the Space Shuttle
  • 758 to 75,796 years travel time

Our Solar System is an amazing place and something unique. Its 4.6 billion years in the making of one of the most incredible outcomes in the entire Universe; life. As of today, our Solar System is the only known Star System that houses simple or complex life forms. Hopefully now that you’ve read through this post you’ll never again ask yourself: what solar system are we in?

* Featured Image Credit: By Image Editor, https://flic.kr/p/5i6ydB

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