Questions tagged [solar-system]

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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79
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6answers
9k views

How can we see planets thousands of light years away but don't know if there are more planets in the solar system?

That is basically my question, it arose when I saw an article (here is the scientific paper, which should be free to read) saying two Caltech scientists might have found the 9th planet of the solar ...
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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 ...
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15answers
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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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How far ahead can we predict solar and lunar eclipses?

The solar system is non-integrable and has chaos. The sun-earth-moon three-body system might be chaotic. So, how far into the future can we predict solar eclipses and/or lunar eclipses? How about ...
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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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Why are our planets in the solar system all on the same disc/plane/layer? [duplicate]

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?
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How far out from the Sun is visible light still sufficient to read a book?

Recent pictures from the New Horizons spacecraft, shown below, seem to indicate that, at Pluto's distance, we are entering a twilight zone, with a distinct lack of colors, although that could be due ...
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"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 ...
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Can the solar system really fit in a thimble?

Almost every time somebody talks about atoms, at some point they mention something like this: If we remove the spaces between the atoms and atomic components, we can fit the solar system in a ...
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2answers
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Is our solar system really that odd?

I have been learning about the solar system from popular science shows. In these shows they suggest that, after having seeing around 2500 other solar systems, astronomers have concluded that our ...
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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 similar ...
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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 ...
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Can the Schrodinger equation describe planetary motion? [duplicate]

I was asked on an exam whether the Schrodinger equation can be used to describe planetary motion and my answer was "No, because the solutions are wavefunctions which give probabilities but everything ...
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Is there a maximum distance from a planet that a moon can orbit?

Given a planet that orbits a star, and a moon that orbits that planet, is it possible to define a maximum orbital radius of that moon, beyond which the moon would no longer orbit the planet, but the ...
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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 ...
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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. ...
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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 ...
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What is the speed of the fastest moving body in our solar system?

On Wikipedia I saw that the average orbital speed of planet Earth around the Sun is a whopping $29 783\text{ m/s}$, and it made me wonder are there bodies (planets, meteorites, asteroids) that move ...
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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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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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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 days ...
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1answer
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Why is Voyager 1 approaching Earth? [duplicate]

When I read JPL's mission status for Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 the distance between Earth and Voyager 1 is decreasing. Is it right?
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Why didn't the debris collapse back into the Earth at the time of Moon's formation?

The most accurate theory for the formation of our moon is the Giant impact hypothesis, which says that a Mars sized body collided with our early Earth and after this collision all the debris got ...
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Where will the Goldilocks zone be when the Sun becomes a red giant?

In about 5 billion years, when our Sun expands into a red giant making our planet uninhabitable, where will the new Goldilocks zone be? Could life form on a new planet in the Goldilocks zone? ...
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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 ...
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Significance of the second focus in elliptical orbits

1.In classical mechanics, using Newton's laws, the ellipticity of orbits is derived. It is also said that the center of mass is at one of the foci. 2.Each body will orbit the center of the mass of ...
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Why are Saturn's rings so thin?

Take a look at this picture (from APOD https://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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What is the accuracy of our knowledge about the planets orbits?

We have studied the solar system for a long time and have detailed 3 dimensional knowledge of all the various bodies in the solar system and how they move in space in relation to one another and also ...
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2answers
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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 ...
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If gravity is attractive, why doesn't the Milky Way contract?

Einstein introduced the cosmological constant because without it, one cannot get a static universe - gravity would cause the universe to contract. Given that, why is the Milky Way not contracting? For ...
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What on Earth is this drawing of Venus?

The Wikipedia article for Venus's alleged moon Neith has this picture: And a tantalizing remark regarding paramecia (vandalism?). I know the grey ball is supposed to be Neith, the white is Venus, the ...
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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 ...
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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 the ...
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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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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 ?
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How can a day be exactly 24 hours long? [closed]

The longest solar day of year is approximately 24 hours 0 min 30 seconds (occurs at mid to late December) while the shortest solar day of year is approximately 23 hour 59min 38 seconds. If I average ...
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How do stars from far away affect Earth?

I know that we obviously get light (or we wouldn't be able to see them), but are there any other ways that they affect Earth and maybe just our solar system in general?
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What angle does our Solar System make with The Milky Way?

Solar System resides in a plane, thanks to Conservation of Angular Momentum. The Milky Way is also a disc, not sphere. What angle does our Solar System's plane (or, normal to plane) make with The ...
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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 ...
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2answers
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Was Leverrier-Adams prediction of Neptune a lucky coincidence?

According to historians both Adams and Leverrier used Bode's law to guess the distance to Neptune, which led to a vast overestimation of its orbital period (Adams - 227 years, Le Verrier - 218 years, ...
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What's the actual path of the planets?

I read about Kepler's Laws and in one of them he mentions that the path of a planet is an ellipse, with the sun as one of its foci (I'm narrowing down this to only our solar system). However though I'...
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12answers
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Is the distance between the Sun and the Earth increasing?

$M$ = mass of the Sun $m$ = mass of the Earth $r$ = distance between the Earth and the Sun The sun is converting mass into energy by nuclear fusion. $$F = \frac{GMm}{r^2} = \frac{mv^2}{r} \...
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Is solar wind positively charged?

Many times I heared that the solar wind consists of protons and alpha particles. The both are positively charged, but are there electrons in solar wind?
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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?
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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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1answer
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Relationship between Mars and Earth rotation

Is it by pure random chance that Mars and the Earth have nearly the same day duration (Mars day is barely 40 minutes longer, which is just 3% difference), or there is some causal relationship between ...
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Minimal velocity to throw an object to the Sun

What is the minimal velocity to throw an object (material point) to the Sun from Earth, with no specific restrictions?
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What would happen if the Earth was in a polar orbit around the sun?

This is a question that has been bugging me for a while now, I was wondering about the effects on the Earth if it was in different orbital situations to what it is now, and one of those was what would ...
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4answers
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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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What are the facts that allow accepting the Oort cloud theory?

I admit without any fact that the Oort cloud (comet reservoir) should exist, and it seems to be accepted by far by the large majority of astronomers. But it is still a theory without any direct ...

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