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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42
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2answers
3k views

Why are our planets in the solar system all on the same disc/plane/layer?

I always see pictures of the solar system where our sun is in the middle and the planets surround the sun. All these planets move on orbits on the same layer. Why?
39
votes
14answers
10k views

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 ...
13
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4answers
1k views

Why do all the planets of the solar system orbit in roughly the same 2D plane?

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 ...
8
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4answers
4k views

How do the Planets and Sun get their initial spin?

How do the Planets and Sun get their initial rotation? Why do Venus and Mercury rotate so slowly compared to other planets? Why does Venus rotate in a different direction to Mercury, Earth and Mars? ...
11
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4answers
6k views

Why does Venus spin in the opposite direction?

Given: Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum. Reverse spinning with dense atmosphere (92 times > Earth & CO2 dominant sulphur based). Surface same degree of aging all over. Hypothetical large ...
14
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5answers
3k views

Age of the Earth and the star that preceded the Sun

One of the great unheralded advances made in the history of science was the ability to determine the age of Earth based on the decay of isotopic uranium. Based on the apparent abundance of uranium in ...
13
votes
7answers
12k views

What is the simplest way to prove that Earth orbits the Sun?

Assume you're talking to someone ignorant of the basic facts of astronomy. How would you prove to them that Earth orbits the Sun? Similarly, how would you prove to them that the Moon orbits Earth? ...
23
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4answers
22k views

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 ...
10
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3answers
1k views

Planets and Pluto? Neptune?

If one of the rules to be a planet is that it needs to clear ALL objects from their orbit, does this also make Neptune a non-planet? Since it has thus far failed to clear Pluto from it's orbit. Or ...
12
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6answers
2k views

If the solar system is a non-inertial frame, why can Newton's Laws predict motion?

Since there is no object in the universe that doesn't move, and the solar system likely accelerates through space, how did Newton's Laws work so well? Didn't he assume that the sun is the ...
4
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1answer
736 views
3
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3answers
1k views

If the Earth left the solar system for interstellar space. How long would it take for atmosphere to freeze?

If the Earth left the solar system for some reason. Assuming its moving at the same velocity it's currently exhibiting. How long would it take for the atmosphere to freeze. Would we get methane clouds ...
15
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4answers
1k 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?
25
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5answers
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Why doesn't dark matter affect planetary motion?

If the universe is made up of ~95% dark matter, and it interacts only gravitationally then why didn't Newton and Kepler discover it before ? Why does it show itself only in the radial velocity profile ...
32
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4answers
2k views

Why doesn't the solar wind disrupt the planets?

The sun creates this heliosphere by sending a constant flow of particles and a magnetic field out into space at over 670,000 miles per hour, which is also known as solar wind. If the speed of the wind ...
9
votes
2answers
5k views

How did Halley calculate the distance to the Sun by measuring the transit of Venus?

What numbers did Halley, Cook, et al. have? What was the strategy by which they calculated the AU?
8
votes
4answers
487 views

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 ...
10
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1answer
2k views

How is the Plane of the Solar System oriented to the Sun's motion through space?

How is the Plane of the Solar System oriented to the Sun's motion through space: parallel, perpendicular, or some other angle?
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Mass density of dark matter in solar system near us

What is the approximate mass density of dark matter in our solar system at the radius of the Earth's orbit? I would like some idea of the mass of dark matter going through each cubic meter of ...
6
votes
2answers
565 views

Is dark matter really present around the sun?

Recently I read an article that there is dark matter around the sun but if it is so, than why can we see it clearly. If it is called matter than it shall show some hindrance in radiation we receive ...
3
votes
1answer
954 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 ...
22
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4answers
4k views

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 ...
30
votes
3answers
3k views

Why do the planets' orbital distances fall on an exponential curve?

Background: I was recently reading a book on the planets to my son and I noticed a pattern in the distributions of the planets. The planets' distances roughly follow an exponential distribution. ...
21
votes
1answer
2k views

How fast is the Earth-Sun distance changing

This is inspired by Evidence that the Solar System is expanding like the Universe?, which referenced an article by G. A. Krasinsky and V. A. Brumberg, "Secular Increase of Astronomical Unit from ...
16
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3answers
6k views

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 ...
9
votes
1answer
438 views

Has Voyager 1 entered a solar radiation belt?

The Voyager 1 probe was sent out in 1977 to go where no man made object has gone before, after more than 35 years it’s still going strong. It’s now 124 AU away from Earth and many are wondering when ...
14
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2answers
4k views

Why Aren't Saturn's Rings Clumping into Moons?

While reading with my son about how a Mars-like planet collided with the early Earth that resulted in our current moon, it said the initial debris also formed a ring, but that ring ended up getting ...
9
votes
3answers
383 views

What is the safe distance to a supernova explosion?

In other words, what stars near the Sun may have an impact on the Solar system equilibrium or the Earth life if they become supernova ? Is SN 1987 A too far ?
6
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3answers
3k views

Why does Pluto's orbit cross Neptune's orbit?

Why does Pluto's orbit cross Neptune's orbit? Is this a fault in Newton's law of gravitation?
4
votes
5answers
9k views

Why does the moon not revolve around the sun directly?

The sun pulls on the moon with a force that is more than twice the magnitude of the force with which the earth attracts the moon. Why, then, doesn’t the sun take the moon away from the earth?
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Where do planets get energy to revolve around sun? [duplicate]

We know that every planet in our solar system revolve's around the sun in a particular orbit. But were to they get the energy to revolve around the sun. And why do they not drop into the sun there is ...
2
votes
1answer
332 views

When would the proposed black hole at the centre of Milky Way gulp in our solar system? [duplicate]

I've heard and read that our solar system lies near to the peripheral region of the Galaxy. Then accordingly we would have a greater probability of sustaining to eventual gulping down by the ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Do we know what event caused the Sun and Solar System to form?

Some stellar formation theories suggest that stars are formed by shock waves from trigger events such as supernovae. This excerpt from Star Formation basically gives the background to my question: ...
7
votes
3answers
711 views

Are there planetary systems where the planes of orbits vary greatly?

Inspired by this question, are there any known planetary systems with largely varying planes of orbit? For example a system where two planets have perpendicular planes?
6
votes
2answers
321 views

Why is there this asymmetry between the two foci of an orbital ellipse?

Why does the Earth revolve with the Sun at one of its foci? Does the other focus do nothing? Why is there this asymmetry in our solar system?
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Can human push earth away from the sun?

It's said the earth is approaching the sun. Can we push it away little by little? Although we can emit rocket towards the sun, but it's too expensive to make a rocket: So I think maybe we can ...
14
votes
5answers
6k views

Why do we always see the same side of the Moon? [duplicate]

I am puzzled why we always see the same side of the Moon even though it is rotating around its own axis apart from revolving around the earth. Shouldn't this only be possible if the Moon is not ...
14
votes
3answers
395 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
129 views

Do metric theories with torsion contradict solar system observations?

Obviously, the answer to this question can be "maybe, if you make the torsion tensor small enough", but my question is, given some "typical" size to the torsion tensor, do the spin-orbit couplings ...
5
votes
0answers
107 views

Evidence that the Solar System is expanding like the Universe? [duplicate]

I've just come across Krasinsky and Brumberg's paper that claims, from an analysis of radiometric measurements, that the astronomical unit (earth-sun distance) is increasing at the rate: ...
4
votes
2answers
591 views

Deviation from Earth's orbit

How much orbital deviation is required for the Earth to get knocked out from current orbit so it either moves away from Sun or towards the Sun?
3
votes
4answers
3k views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
304 views

Why do Uranus and Venus rotate from East to west?

Why do only Uranus and Venus rotate from East to west, while others rotate in opposite direction? Is it because of the angle of their tiltness? Or due to the process of their formation?
2
votes
3answers
4k views

How much iron would I have to shoot into the sun to blow it up?

My understanding--though it's from a Science Channel show so I'm not sure if it is correct--is that there is a fusion reaction happening in the center of the sun. Atomic nuclei are being created and ...
1
vote
1answer
32 views

What causes the twisting of flux loops, leading to coronal mass ejections?

I understand that the loop twisting is the ultimate originator of the CMEs but what causes this twisting? The expansion of the loops is caused by a magnetic pressure differential between the top and ...
1
vote
1answer
198 views

Rømer's determination of the speed of light

I am trying to understand Rømer's determination of the speed of light ($c$). The geometry of the situation is shown in the image below. The determination involves measuring apparent fluctuations in ...
1
vote
1answer
638 views

Geocentric Model in General Relativity

In classical mechanics, if I want to view the Earth as the fixed center of the solar system, I must accelerate my reference frame to keep it centered on the Earth. That accelerated reference frame ...
34
votes
4answers
5k views

Why is Earth's climate so stable?

Earth wasn't always the only water-world in the solar system. Mars also appear to have started out wet but, as conditions changed, Mars lost its oceans. So, how has Earth managed to avoid a ...
52
votes
4answers
5k views

Do solar systems typically spin in the same direction as their galaxy?

Is the net angular momentum vector of our solar system pointing in roughly the same direction as the Milky Way galaxy's net angular momentum vector? If yes or no, is that common for most stars in the ...
38
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8answers
6k views

“Falling upward” - how far you have to be from Earth to start falling to the Moon?

Talking about gravity with my 9 y/o she asked when do we start "falling upward" to the Moon. What is the distance at which the Moon's gravitational attraction is higher than that of the Earth and thus ...