FACTS ABOUT THE SOLAR SYSTEM FOR KIDS
Since ancient times, mankind is investigating the Solar System to unravel its hidden mysteries. But the more we learn about it, the more amazing it gets. With advances in technology used, more astronomers are coming out every year with astonishing facts about the Solar System. It is impossible to bring out all of them on one single page. However, I tried to put some of the basic facts about the Solar System, which all kids interested in astronomy must know about.
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BASIC FACTS ABOUT THE SOLAR SYSTEM
- The Solar System has formed about 4.6 billion years ago from a cloud of gas and dust spinning around a newly formed star, the Sun.
- The Sun our own star is at the center of the Solar System and it holds everything in place by an invisible force called gravity.
- The Sun comprises of total 99.8% mass of the whole Solar System and the remaining 0.2% comprises all other objects like planets, comets, meteoroids, asteroids, etc.
- There are eight planets in our solar system – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The largest of them is Jupiter and the smallest is Mercury.
- The first four planets are primarily composed of rock and minerals while the other four are gas giants.
- The asteroid belt is a region between planet Mars and Jupiter, which contain around 40,000 rocks.
- Apart from eight major planets, there are 5 dwarf planets – Pluto, Ceres, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris.
- As planets revolve around the Sun. Similarly, natural satellites or moons revolve around planets. All planets except the Mercury and the Venus have moons. Jupiter has the highest number of 63 moons. Ganymede, the moon of the planet Jupiter is the largest moon of our Solar System. It is diameter is 5263 kilometers.
- The Solar System revolves around the center of the Milky Way at a speed of 285 kilometers per second and complete one revolution in 224 million years.
- The planet Venus is the hottest planet of our Solar System with a surface temperature of around 500⁰C. Although planet Mercury is closest to the Sun, still Venus is hotter due to the presence of a huge amount of greenhouse gases on it.
SOME OTHER UNCOMMON AND AMAZING FACTS ABOUT THE SOLAR SYSTEM
- Our Sun might be the big daddy of our Solar System family, but when we compare it to other stars in the Universe, it is just too small. Most probably it will end its life as a white dwarf star.
- Edge of the Solar System is not Pluto’s orbit as normally considered. However, it extends beyond in form of Kuiper belt and Oort cloud. Kuiper belt is the region of asteroids similar to a region between the Mars and the Jupiter and the Oort cloud is the spherical region covering the entire Solar System. It contains numerous comets.
- We measure the size of the Solar System in AU (Astronomical Unit). 1 AU is equal to the distance of the Earth from the Sun. The outer extent of the Oort Cloud is considered to be the “edge” of our solar system, where the Sun’s physical and gravitational influence ends. So, our Solar System is about 100,000 AU in diameter.
- Some astronomers believe that apart from eight numbers of known planets, one more planet exists, which orbit at a far distance from the Sun somewhere outside the Kuiper belt. They name this ninth planet, “Super Earth”.
- Titan the largest moon of the Saturn has a topography similar to that of the Earth. It also has rivers, lakes, and mountains as we have on the Earth but with a slight difference. The rivers on Titan are made of liquid methane gas and mountains of frozen water.
- Ceres is the largest rock in the asteroid belt with a diameter of approximately 945 kilometers. Ceres has been recently promoted to the category of dwarf planets.
- Water once considered a rare substance in the Universe is not so rare after all. Most of the planets, comets, and moons have water in one form or the other.
WHAT IS OUR SOLAR SYSTEM CALLED?
Our Solar System is not unique in the Universe. Other stars also have a somewhat similar planetary system around them. We call them stellar systems. Word ‘stellar’ means ‘relating to a star or stars”. However, as we derive the name of our star from the Latin word ‘Sol’, so we call our stellar system, the Solar System.