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35

Since we're talking about terminology, we need to remember that none of this really matters, outside of clarity when communicating. Still, some people tend to have rather strong opinions on it, thus confusion about how many planets are really in the solar system arises. The people The most trusted source in Astronomy would have to be the people that set ...


25

In addition to Undo's fine answer, I would like to explain a bit about the motivation behind the definition. When Eris was discovered, it turned out to be really, really similar to Pluto. This posed a bit of a quandary: should Eris be accepted as a new planet? Should it not? If not, then why keep Pluto? Most importantly, this pushed to the foreground the ...


15

No, Pluto is a so called resonant trans-neptunian object; the orbital period of Pluto is almost exactly 3:2 (1.5) times that of Neptune. This means that every time Pluto nears perihelion and is therefore closest to the Sun and also closest to the orbit of Neptune, Neptune is always at a specific angle (50° according to Wikipedia) in front or behind Pluto. ...


11

The Hubble expansion has no bearing whatsoever on the length of the year. This is because the whole Milky Way galaxy (and in fact most galaxies, if not all, and even local groups) has decoupled from the Hubble flow long ago. In fact, it could only form after it decoupled. Note that M31, our sister galaxy, is in fact falling onto the Milky Way rather than ...


10

I've also heard that people in the past knew about orbits even when they thought that Earth was at the center of the solar system. How did they figure this out in their times with their technology? The same celestial objects (stars, planets, the Moon) could be seen every year. So, people figured out there was a pattern to it. At first, geocentrism was ...


10

The precise presolar history isn't known. I'll try to tell a likely story backward in time. Our sun probably has brothers and sisters scattered throughout the Milky Way. Further back in time our sun likely was part of on open star cluster like the Hyades. Open star clusters are not stable and eject stars over hundreds of millions of years. (More about ...


9

Key factors: How close is perihelion? Too close and it may be destroyed on its first pass. We know Halley's Comet, which has a perihelion of about 0.6AU, has been orbiting for over 2000 years, passing the sun every 74-76 years and is still going strong. How big is it? Every pass loses material, so a bigger comet could last longer. What is its composition? ...


9

(Disclaimer: As I already pointed out in a comment to the question above, I never did a calculation with $H_0$ before and I might be utterly, horrible wrong with my interpretation.) If you completely ignore the slowly changing orbit of earth and only take expansion of space into account and assume the Hubble-parameter to be pretty constant in the timeframe ...


9

Many models shown in books or television show a very populated asteroid belt but in fact the belt is mostly empty. To answer your question, the inclination of the asteroids vary a lot going from 0° to 40° although most off them are in between 0° and 30°; See The orbital element distributions of real and modelled asteroids. So yes it would be 3 dimensional. ...


9

On any given day, you see the moon rise in the east and (apparently) travel across the sky from your left to the right; therefore, you would assume (incorrectly) that the leading edge of the moon's movement must be to the right. That is not correct. The apparent motion you are seeing is predominantly from the Earth's ~24 hour rotation. But the orbit of ...


9

This is not a coincidence at all, but a direct consequence of the way the solar system was formed. The generally accepted model is that solar systems (including our own) form out of a Protoplanetary disc. Gravitation causes mass to collapse around a protostar, which always has some angular momentum (as does everything). Wikipedia explains it better than I ...


8

Mathematically, the motion of the Pluto-Charon system can be decomposed into two parts: The motion of Pluto-Charon about the Sun, and the motion of Pluto and Charon about one another. If one sets the reference point to be the center of Pluto, the path the Pluto-Charon system would appear to follow about the Sun would be an epicycle, which is a far more ...


7

Few important points about WISE: it was able to detect anything with a temperature above 70-100 K, whereas the coolest brown dwarfs are in the 500-600 K range (the coolest was discovered by WISE itself, see Mainzner et al., 2011); it was able to detect objects larger than 1km up to 3 AU from the Sun, or objects of 2-3 Jupiter masses in a distance up to ...


7

Self-sufficiency is an incredibly broad term. We could argue that yes, there is water on the Moon, and that yes, there are viable ways to produce required electricity in self-sustainable ways, but the real question is, are there areas on the Moon that would be viable for both at the same time. You see, the most likely place where surface or near subsurface ...


7

The tilt of our solar system (or any star system) is determined by the net angular momentum of the gas cloud from which it formed. This might be a bit of a vague answer, but over time, the formation of stars and their respective planets is thought to look something like this: Other influences (net forces: maybe nearby massive objects, or other components ...


7

The principle is almost exactly the same as a watch or clock, but instead of three concentric axles, you need 9 for the planets. Have a google for Orrery kit - there are loads available. It is really all simple maths - you just need to know relative orbital periods in order to calculate cog sizes. (picture from curiousminds.co.uk) For moons, you do add a ...


6

Answer to the NEW question: the Angular Momentum Conservation Law states that, for any moving body, its angular momentum does not change unless you exercise an external force different from the central force. For an orbiting body like a planet, this means that Sun's gravity, being the central force, does not modify Angular Momentum, but any other external ...


6

The Wikipedia article for Pluto shows a low-resolution map of the surface, generated from Hubble images: And the Wikipedia article for Pluto's largest moon Charon shows a low-resolution map of the Pluto-facing side of Charon (not to scale): Larger image here. Only the Pluto-facing side is shown because the map was generated from brightness variations ...


6

In the protostar stage of the Sun, it was surrounded by a (spinning) gas cloud. This cloud behaved like a fluid (well, a gas is a fluid), so it flattened out into an accretion disk due to conservation of angular momentum. The planets eventually formed from the dust/gas in the disk from compression of the dust in the disk. This process won't end up moving the ...


6

If you check 2001 A Space Odyssey saga, Europa is actually a satellite with Life. Coming back to real space, the "comfort zone" for life is approximately from Venus' orbit to Mars' orbit. There, only Moon, Phobos and Deimos are satellites, and all of them are too dry to have any kind of life. Beyond the comfort zone you need some other way for water not to ...


6

Probably not. You'd need a could of gas dense enough to contract under its own gravity. In the space between galaxies, matter is spread too thin for a solar-system sized cloud to exist. A much larger cloud could be more diffuse and still collapse, but being much larger, it would collapse into a galaxy. Even within a galaxy, stars seem to form when shock ...


6

This is a low accuracy - yet simple - answer It allows you to calculate only radial alignment configuration of the planets. If you would like an approximation, let's say, you approximate the position of the planets as hands in a clock, you could work the math out by something like this. Assume $\theta_i$ is the initial angle for planet $i$ at time $t_0$ - ...


5

The correct answer is 8 (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune). Pluto is not longer a planet since 2006 when it was adopted a formal definition of planet


5

What you could think at first, regarding the orientation of any planetary system, is that it should be roughly in the plane of the galaxy, simply by angular momentum conservation. But, when you take a look at observations, you see that protoplanetary disks orientation is not what you would expect, with no preferential orientation (protoplanetary disks are ...


5

The gravitational pull of all the planets and the sun, and the rest of the galaxy and the universe, all play a part, but gravitational effects fall off with distance. For Earth's orbit, the Sun is far and away the single biggest influence. Jupiter perturbs our orbit slightly, but with it or without it we have a simple elliptical orbit round the sun. We can ...



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