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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31
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14answers
8k 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 ...
39
votes
2answers
2k 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?
12
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4answers
844 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 ...
5
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3answers
2k views

How do the Planets and Sun get their initial rotation?

How do the Planets and Sun get their initial rotation? Why do Venus and Mercury rotate so slowly compared to other planets and why does Venus rotate in a different direction to Mercury, Earth and ...
19
votes
4answers
10k 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 ...
12
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7answers
9k 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? ...
3
votes
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 ...
10
votes
3answers
952 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 ...
9
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2answers
3k 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?
7
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4answers
463 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
1k 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?
27
votes
3answers
2k 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. ...
19
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1answer
1k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
376 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
3k 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 ...
2
votes
5answers
4k 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
1answer
262 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
516 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
1answer
584 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
468 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
307 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?
4
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
643 views
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3answers
1k 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
5k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
368 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
468 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
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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 ...
1
vote
3answers
3k 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
162 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
518 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 ...
33
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 ...
21
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
20
votes
6answers
5k views

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 ...
11
votes
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 ...
6
votes
2answers
799 views

How did pre-Copernican astronomers accurately predict planetary position?

Copernican elements (circular orbital elements) are not very accurate. But Copernicus simplified our understanding a great deal by placing the Sun at the center of the system. Im astonished by the ...
5
votes
4answers
7k views

What is the scientific reason for the inclination of earth's rotation axis?

This titled position of the earths axis is known as inclination of the earths axis. The earth's rotation axis makes an angle of about 66.5 degrees with the plane of its orbit around the sun, or about ...
4
votes
1answer
941 views

What is the precise definition of Gravitational Sphere of Influence (SOI)?

I am trying to understand the gravitational sphere of influence (SOI), but all I get by searching is the formula that you can find on Wikipedia, that is $$ r_{SOI} = a \left( \frac{m}{M} ...
3
votes
1answer
86 views

Did dark matter cause the formation of the Solar System?

This question is related to my previous question on Solar System Formation and is a pure thought experiment, with as few as possible assumptions made. From my previous question, I learned that stars ...
1
vote
1answer
390 views

Mercury's Orbital Precession in Special Relativity

I am researching Mercury's orbital precession. I have considered most perturbations and general relativity. I am still not satisfied. I need your help. I need a solution to Exercise 13, Chapter 6, in ...
20
votes
2answers
10k 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
857 views

Staying in orbit - but doesn't any perturbation start a positive feedback?

I am not a physicist; I am a software engineer. While trying to fall asleep recently, I started thinking about the following. There are many explanations online of how any object stays in orbit. The ...
7
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: ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Why are the orbits of the planets in our solar system along the same basic plane? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why are our planets in the solar system all on the same disc/plane/layer? After watching this video I realized that the orbits of the planets in our solar system ...
0
votes
2answers
221 views

How explain this perturbing equation about the 43 arcseconds?

The planetary orbits have been studied as ellipses but the solar system is in motion in relation to the distant stars. Their path is along the tip of an helix and the ecliptic plane is a convenient ...
7
votes
2answers
31 views

Predicting solar storms?

Quote from BBC "A strong solar storm is expected to hit Earth shortly, and experts warn it could disrupt power grids, satellite navigation and plane routes." How is it that we are aware of a massive ...
7
votes
6answers
2k views

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 ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Is a water world possible, and for how long could it be stable?

I have several questions regarding this topic. First, could a water world be stable for thousands of years with most of its surface remaining covered in water. What would it take for this to be ...
4
votes
0answers
98 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: ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Where to find the current positions and velocities of the planets?

I've written a program which simulates the motions of planets and other bodies. I'd like to run it on our own solar system, but to do so I need to know the current positions (preferably in ...