The Planets In Order Of Size
The largest planets, rightly called the gas giants, are located on the outskirt of the solar system while the smallest, the rocky planets, are located in the inner region.
Scientific Revolution And New Planets
With the advent of the Scientific Revolution and the heliocentric model of Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler, use of the term “planet” changed from something that moved around the sky relative to the fixed star to a body that orbited the Sun, directly or indirectly . Thus the Earth was added to the roster of planets and the Sun was removed. The Copernican count of primary planets stood until 1781, when William Herschel discovered Uranus.
When four satellites of Jupiter and five of Saturn were discovered in the 17th century, they were thought of as “satellite planets” or “secondary planets” orbiting the primary planets, though in the following decades they would come to be called simply “satellites” for short. Scientists generally considered planetary satellites to also be planets until about the 1920s, although this usage was not common among non-scientists.
In the first decade of the 19th century, four new planets were discovered: Ceres , Pallas , , and Vesta . It soon became apparent that they were rather different from previously known planets: they shared the same general region of space, between Mars and Jupiter , with sometimes overlapping orbits, where only one planet had been expected, and they were much much smaller indeed, it was suspected that they might be shards of a larger planet that had broken up. Herschel called them asteroids because even in the largest telescopes they resembled stars, without a resolvable disk.
Identifying The Oort Cloud
In 1950, Dutch astronomer Jan Oort suggested that some of the comets entering the solar system come from a cloud of icy bodies that may lie as far as 100,000 times Earth’s distance from the sun, a distance of up to 9.3 trillion miles .
Two types of comets travel through the solar system. Those with short periods, on the order of a few hundred years, stem from the Kuiper Belt, a pancake of icy particles near the orbit of Pluto. Longer period comets, with orbits of thousands of years, come from the more distant Oort Cloud.
The two regions vary primarily in terms of distance and location. The Kuiper Belt orbits in approximately the same plane as the planets, ranging from 30 to 50 times as far from the sun as Earth. But the Oort Cloud is a shell that surrounds the entire solar system, and is a hundred times as distant.
Comets from the Oort Cloud can travel as far as three light-years from the sun. The farther they go, the weaker the sun’s gravitational hold grows. Passing stars and clouds of molecular gas can easily change the orbit of these comets, stripping them from our sun or casting them back toward it. The path of the comets is constantly shifting, depending on what factors influence it.
Recommended Reading: Does A Solar Panel Have To Be In Direct Sunlight
What Is A Planet Anyway
The word planet stretches back to antiquity, deriving from the Greek word “planetes,” which means wandering star. The five classical planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are visible to the naked eye and can be seen shifting in strange pathways across the sky compared with the more distant background stars. After the advent of telescopes, astronomers discovered two new planets, Uranus and Neptune, which are too faint to spot with the naked eye.
Pluto was found and classified as a planet in 1930, when astronomer Clyde Tombaugh of the Lowell Observatory compared photographic plates of the sky on separate nights and noticed a tiny dot that drifted back and forth against the backdrop of stars. Right away, the solar system’s newest candidate was considered an oddball. Its orbit is so eccentric, or far from circular, that it actually gets closer to the sun than Neptune for 20 of its 248-years-long trip.
In 1992, scientists discovered the first Kuiper Belt object, 1992 QB1, a tiny body orbiting out in Pluto’s vicinity. Many more such objects were soon uncovered, revealing a belt of small, frozen worlds similar to the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Pluto remained the king of this region, but in July 2005, astronomers found the distant body Eris, which at first was thought to be even larger than Pluto.
Intense debate followed, with many new proposals for the definition of planet being offered.
Pluto: Once A Planet Now A Dwarf Planet
– Day: 6.4 Earth days
– Number of moons: 5
It is smaller than Earth’s moon its orbit is highly elliptical, falling inside Neptune’s orbit at some points and far beyond it at others and Pluto’s orbit doesn’t fall on the same plane as all the other planets instead, it orbits 17.1 degrees above or below.
It is smaller than Earth’s moon its orbit is highly elliptical, falling inside Neptune’s orbit at some points and far beyond it at others and Pluto’s orbit doesn’t fall on the same plane as all the other planets instead, it orbits 17.1 degrees above or below, taking 288 years to complete a single orbit according to ESA.
From 1979 until early 1999, Pluto had been the eighth planet from the sun. Then, on Feb. 11, 1999, it crossed Neptune’s path and once again became the solar system’s most distant planet until it was redefined as a dwarf planet. It’s a cold, rocky world with a tenuous atmosphere.
Scientists thought it might be nothing more than a hunk of rock on the outskirts of the solar system. But when NASA’s New Horizons mission performed history’s first flyby of the Pluto system on July 14, 2015, it transformed scientists’ view of Pluto.
Pluto is a very active ice world that’s covered in glaciers, mountains of ice water, icy dunes and possibly even cryovolcanoes that erupt icy lava made of water, methane or ammonia.
Related: Why isn’t Pluto a planet anymore?
Read Also: How To Run My House On Solar Power
Get Articles Like This Sent To Your Inbox
There are eight planets in the solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The four inner solar system planets fall under the category of terrestrial planets Jupiter and Saturn are gas giants while Uranus and Neptune are the ice giants .
Pluto, a dwarf planet, was classified as one of the solar system planets when it was first discovered by Clyde Tombaugh. However, it is now considered to be one of the largest known members of the Kuiper Belt a collection of icy bodies on the outer fringes of the solar system. Pluto was demoted from its planetary status in 2006 when a body of scientists decided a formalized definition for the term planet.
According to the International Astronomical Union’s definition, a planet is a celestial body that is in orbit around the Sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit. Because Pluto is part of the Kuiper Belt, and therefore has not met the third criterion, it is no longer considered a planet. Instead, it is classified as a dwarf planet. Other dwarf planets include Ceres, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris.
With an atmosphere, , and , Pluto is the most complex dwarf planet we know, and one of the most surprising solar system planets. New Horizons flew by our favorite dwarf planet in July 2015 and scientists continue to uncover surprising details about this faraway world.
Types Of Solar System Planets
Mainly, there are two types of planets in our solar system:-
According to scientists, our Universe has billions of planets but our solar system only has 8. There are other different types of planets that exist but are not in our Solar System, such asrogue planets and exoplanets.
Now, check below some informative and educational facts about the eight planets of our solar system.
Recommended Reading: Do You Need A Business License For Sole Proprietorship
How Did The Sun Form
The solar system is anchored by our sun.
Before the solar system existed, a massive concentration of interstellar gas and dust created a molecular cloud that would form the sun’s birthplace. Cold temperatures caused the gas to clump together, growing steadily denser. The densest parts of the cloud began to collapse under their own gravity, perhaps with a nudge from a nearby stellar explosion, forming a wealth of young stellar objects known as protostars.
Gravity continued to collapse the material onto the infant solar system, creating a star and a disk of material from which the planets would form. Eventually, the newborn sun encompassed more than 99% of the solar system’s mass, according to NASA . When pressure inside the star grew so powerful that fusion kicked in, turning hydrogen to helium, the star began to blast a stellar wind that helped clear out the debris and stopped it from falling inward.
Although gas and dust shroud young stars in visible wavelengths, infrared telescopes have probed many clouds in the Milky Way galaxy to study the environment of other newborn stars. Scientists have applied what they’ve seen in other systems to our own star.
Webb Telescope Makes Major Breakthrough With Its First Direct Image Of A Planet Outside Our Solar System
Explanatory astronomers have obtained the first-ever direct images of an exoplanet with JWST.
In a breakthrough for astronomers the James Webb Space Telescope has taken its first direct image of a planet outside our solar system.
One of the hardest ways possible to find an exoplanet, the success of JWSTs first attempt at directly imaging comes just days after JWST detected carbon dioxide around another exoplanet.
The images look even better than the simulated images we produced many years ago, said Sasha Hinkley, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Exeter and Principal Investigator for one of the 13 JWST Early Release Science Programs.
This is a particularly exciting beginning to this new era capturing photons directly from exoplanet atmospheres at totally new wavelengths that should last for the next 20 years or so, said Hinkley, describing the moment as a major milestone.
The images were online as a pre-print as part of the JWST Early Release Science Program for Direct Observations of Exoplanetary Systems.
Read Also: What Is A Good Solar Number
Planets In Order From The Sun
Our solar system is located in the Orion spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy and contains eight official planets that orbit counterclockwise around the Sun. The order of the eight official planets from the Sun, starting closest and moving outward:
Order of planets from the Sun. Universe Today
In addition to the planets, our solar system also includes dwarf planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and meteoroids.
The Edge Of The Solar System
Past the Kuiper Belt is the very edge of the solar system, the heliosphere, a vast, teardrop-shaped region of space containing electrically charged particles given off by the sun. Many astronomers think that the limit of the heliosphere, known as the heliopause, is about 9 billion miles from the sun.
The Oort Cloud lies well past the Kuiper Belt, considered to be located between 2,000 and 5,000 astronomical units from the sun. The outer edge of the Oort Cloud may reach as far as 10,000 up to 100,000 AU from the sun. One AU is equal to approximately 93,000,000 miles . The Oort Cloud is home to billions, or even trillions of objects, according to NASA Science .
Read Also: How To Sell Solar Over The Phone
The Core Accretion Model
Approximately 4.6 billion years ago, the solar system was a cloud of dust and gas known as a solar nebula. Gravity collapsed the material in on itself as it began to spin, forming the sun in the center of the nebula.
With the rise of the sun, the remaining material began to clump together. Small particles drew together, bound by the force of gravity, into larger particles, according to the core accretion model. The solar wind swept away lighter elements, such as hydrogen and helium, from the closer regions, leaving only heavy, rocky materials to create terrestrial worlds. But farther away, the solar winds had less impact on lighter elements, allowing them to coalesce into gas giants. In this way, asteroids, comets, planets and moons were created.
Some exoplanet observations seem to confirm core accretion as the dominant formation process. Stars with more “metals” a term astronomers use for elements other than hydrogen and helium in their cores have more giant planets than their metal-poor cousins. According to NASA , core accretion suggests that small, rocky worlds should be more common than the large gas giants.
Comparison With Extrasolar Systems
Compared to many extrasolar systems, the Solar System stands out in lacking planets interior to the orbit of Mercury. The known Solar System also lacks super-Earths, planets between one and ten times as massive as the Earth, although the hypothetical Planet Nine, if it does exist, could be a super-Earth beyond the Solar System as we understand it today. Uncommonly, it has only small rocky planets and large gas giants elsewhere planets of intermediate size are typicalboth rocky and gasso there is no “gap” as seen between the size of Earth and of Neptune . Also, these super-Earths have closer orbits than Mercury. This led to the hypothesis that all planetary systems start with many close-in planets, and that typically a sequence of their collisions causes consolidation of mass into few larger planets, but in case of the Solar System the collisions caused their destruction and ejection.
The orbits of Solar System planets are nearly circular. Compared to other systems, they have smaller orbital eccentricity. Although there are attempts to explain it partly with a bias in the radial-velocity detection method and partly with long interactions of a quite high number of planets, the exact causes remain undetermined.
Recommended Reading: How To Start A Solar Farm In Florida
What Caused The Planets To Be In That Order
The solar system began as a giant cloud of gas and dust where, at one point, gravity gathered enough matter to create the Sun, while the planets formed from the remnants of dust and gas left over after the Sun formed.
There are many theories as to why the planets are in this particular order, but none are 100% confirmed. It is thought that the solar winds may have pushed most of the gases further into the solar system where the gas giant formed, leaving behind mostly rock and dust that led to the formation of the rocky planet. This would explain why the inner solar system is populated only by rocky planets while the outer solar system is populated only by gas giants.
To date, we do not know exactly why the planets are in this precise order, but we can imagine that it is mostly due to a long list of random factors that happened during the formation of the solar system, gravitational influences, impacts with other celestial bodies, etc.
Jupiter Limited Planets Formation
What did Jupiter have to do with limiting planet formation? Jupiters early birth explains why the inner solar system lacks any planets more massive than Earth. Many planetary systems far beyond the Sun have large, close-in planets. These can be rocky planets a bit bigger than Earth, known as super-Earths. They are about two to 10 times the mass of Earth. Our solar system contains no super-Earths. All of the other rocky planets are smaller and less massive than Earth. Furthermore, the gas giants and ice giants are all larger, containing at least 14 times the mass of Earth. Some planetary systems have gassy mini-Neptunes or hot Jupiters.
Studying the formation of planets in solar systems helps scientists learn more about our own. For now, they believe that the planets formed in this order.
You May Like: How Much Is Solar Power
Solar System Formation And Discovery
Approximately 4.5 billion years ago a dark cloud of gas and dust began to collapse. As it shrank, the cloud flattened into a swirling disk known as a solar nebula, according to NASA Science .
The heat and pressure eventually became so high that hydrogen atoms began to combine to form helium. The nuclear reactions released vast amounts of energy and our sun was formed.
The sun accumulated about 99% of the available matter and the remaining material further from the sun formed smaller clumps inside the spinning disk. Some of these clumps gained enough mass that their gravity shaped them into spheres, becoming planets, dwarf planets and moons. Other leftover pieces became asteroids, comets and smaller moons that make up our solar system.
Read more: How did the solar system form?
For millennia, astronomers have followed points of light that seemed to move among the stars. The ancient Greeks named them planets, meaning “wanderers.” Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were known in antiquity, and the invention of the telescope added the Asteroid Belt, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and many of these worlds’ moons. The dawn of the space age saw dozens of probes launched to explore our system, an adventure that continues today.
There have been five human-made objects so far, Voyager 1, Voyager 2, New Horizons, Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, that have crossed the threshold into interstellar space.