The Sun plus the collection of bodies in orbit around the Sun such as planets, dwarf planets, moons, asteroids, comets, etc.

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Distribution of each element and molecule as a function of distance from the Sun and as a function of time

Are there any graphs that show the distribution of each element and molecule as a function of distance from the Sun? And maybe even the time-evolution of each distribution over the solar system's ...
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1answer
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Vesta dwarf planet status

Now that we have close-up photos of Vesta, which the IAU had previously said was a candidate dwarf planet, when is the IAU going to decide the issue? Personally, Vesta doesn't look round enough to me. ...
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1answer
638 views

At what temperature does water become a liquid on Mars? On the asteroids? And in a vacuum?

I know that I can just read off the phase diagram for water (for the surface atmospheric pressure on each object). But could there possibly be some nuances that someone might miss just from viewing ...
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3answers
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Why did the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter form as it did?

I'm curious about why the asteroid belt wasn't pulled by Mars's or Jupiter's gravity or formed into either moons or planets. Why did it form into an asteroid belt instead?
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2answers
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Could Jupiter's gravity destabilize Earth's artificial satellites over a long timescale?

Could Jupiter's gravity destabilize Earth's artificial satellites over a long timescale? After all, it can destabilize Mercury's orbit, and it can also destabilize orbits in the asteroid belt.
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When the Sun goes red giant, will it “vaporize” away a significant fraction of Jupiter and Saturn moons?

Since Jupiter and Saturn's moons are composed of a rock+ice mix. For example, Callisto is 50% rock and 50% ice. When the Sun finally goes red giant, could it melt a significant portion of the 50% of ...
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2answers
132 views

Are orbits interior to Jupiter's orbit less stable than orbits exterior to Jupiter's orbit?

Or in other words, are there differences in average Lyapunov timescale between orbits interior to Jupiter and orbits exterior to Jupiter? I'm trying to answer a question at ...
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2answers
8k views

Is Jupiter a failed star?

In my physics lessons, my teachers have always been keen to tell my class that Jupiter is considered a 'failed star' by scientists. Is this true? In my own effort I wondered if maybe this could just ...
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3answers
284 views

Why did the ancients fail to discover that the Earth orbits the Sun?

The ancients observed that the Sun and the 'fixed' stars rotated about the Earth. They were also aware that the Earth was spherical. They performed many astronomical measurements on the planets - ...
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7answers
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What is the average distance between objects in our asteroid belt?

We've all seen sci-fi movies with asteroid belts that require "great skill" to fly through, but how dense is the asteroid belt really? How much of the belt could you see from the surface of a given ...
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6answers
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What is the simplest way to prove that the Earth orbits the Sun?

Assume you're talking to someone ignorant of the basic facts of astronomy. How would you prove to them that the Earth orbits the Sun? Similarly, how would you prove to them that the Moon orbits ...
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2answers
726 views

What if our Sun were located in the middle of a globular cluster?

Say you took our current solar system and relocated it deep in the heart of a globular cluster such as Omega Centauri. What would the night sky look like? Would the starshine of nearby stars be enough ...
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What did general relativity clarify about Mercury?

I frequently hear that Kepler, using his equations of orbital motion, could predict the orbits of all the planets to a high degree of accuracy -- except Mercury. I've heard that mercury's motion ...
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1answer
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How does a comet form?

As the title explains, How does a comet form? What are the elements, what is a comet composed of? Why didn't they become part of planets, moons or asteroids?
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14answers
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Why do we say that the earth moves around the sun?

In history we are taught that the Catholic Church was wrong, because the Sun does not move around the Earth, instead the Earth moves around the Sun. But then in physics we learn that movement is ...
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2answers
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Observing Jupiter's non-Galilean moons

What strength of telescope is required to observe some of the non-Galilean moons of Jupiter? My current telescope at 50 magnification resolves the Galilean moons well, but I'm guessing it's far ...
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2answers
213 views

Ways of verifying the origin of a meteorite?

Assume you have a small sliver of a lunar or martian meteorite (or an object asserted to be so). Without using any special scientific equipment, is it possible to verify (or give a high probability) ...
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6answers
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Can any telescope be used for solar observing?

Can any telescope, such as a 8" reflector, that is normally used at night to look at planets be used or adapted for solar observing? What kind of adapters or filters are required or is it better to ...
15
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3answers
763 views

Why is Uranus's axis of rotation tilted?

The poles of Uranus are 'in the wrong place', why is this? historically, do we have any evidence of its past? also, do we have an understanding of how its rotational axis might be evolving?
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2answers
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Solar System Capture of Orphan Planets

NASA recently announced (http://www.nasa.gov/topics/universe/features/planet20110518.html) that orphan planets, planets no longer orbiting a star, may be more numerous than the stars in our galaxy. ...
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5answers
516 views

Why aren't all rocks in space orbiting bigger rocks?

Why do only big rocks (planets) have satellites, and not small ones? Why doesn't cosmic dust orbit rocks that are many times heavier than the dust grains? If dust is still too heavy then what about ...
0
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1answer
170 views

What is 656 Beagle?

What kind of object is 656 Beagle (1908BU)? I know it's a minor planet, but that includes a large array of different stuff. Specifically, I am looking at the general chemistry/geology of the object.
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Question on the stability of the solar system

One of the pertinent questions about many body systems that causes me much wonder is why the solar system is so stable for billions of years. I came across the idea of "resonance" and albeit an useful ...
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3answers
598 views

Questions about the Solar System

Most images you see of the solar system are 2D and all planets orbit in the same plane. In a 3D view, are really all planets orbiting in similar planes? Is there a reason for this? I'd expect that ...
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1answer
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Does the long axis of Earth's orbit precess? Does it nutate?

Get up off the plane of the ecliptic by a couple of million miles. Look back at the Sun and watch the Earth's orbit in time-lapse for a few centuries. The orbit is an ellipse tilted at 23.5 degrees ...
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3answers
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Why are Saturn's rings so thin?

Take a look at this picture (from APOD http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110308.html): I presume that rocks within rings smash each other. Below the picture there is a note which says that Saturn's rings ...
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4answers
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Historically, how do we know that Earth moves around Sun? And it does so in an elliptical orbit?

I know the basics of solar system like how Earth moves around Sun, and that we have so many planets, elliptical orbit of earth, and how far is sun from earth etc etc. I want to take a step back and ...
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2answers
307 views

Why were space physicists wrong about the location of the heliopause?

The heliopause is now estimated to be something around 100 AU (1 AU = Astronomical unit = about the earth sun distance). See the wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heliosphere From ...
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6answers
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Why are the orbits of planets in the Solar System nearly circular?

Except for Mercury, the planets in the Solar System have very small eccentricities. Is this property special to the Solar System? Wikipedia states: Most exoplanets with orbital periods of 20 ...
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4answers
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How do you calculate the anomalous precession of Mercury?

One of the three classic tests of general relativity is the calculation of the precession of the perihelion of Mercury's orbit. This precession rate had been precisely measured using data collected ...