Questions tagged [solar-system]

Questions regarding the Sun and objects orbiting it.

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54
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5answers
36k views

How many planets are there in this solar system?

So, in school (that's a long time age) they have been teaching us there are 9 planets in our solar system. Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto But every now and then I keep ...
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6answers
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Why hasn't the “9th Planet” been detected already?

In the comments to this question, there was considerable doubt placed as to the subject of if the so called "9th planet" really exists. That wasn't really the intent of the previous question, so I ask ...
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Why does it take so long to transmit an image from New Horizons to Earth?

I just got the news that the New Horizons space probe has passed by some remote planet on the edge of the solar system. I was surprised that the guy from NASA says that it might take 24 months from ...
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Where does the Solar System end?

This is a question I've heard many times in the past, and a quick search of the site says it hasn't been asked here, so I figured I might as well ask (and answer) it. I know that it is rare for ...
38
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Do all stars have an Oort cloud or is it a rare occurence?

Do all stars have an Oort cloud like ours that will be filled with comets and other objects? If not, why are they not around every star?
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1answer
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Closest star system to Alpha Centauri?

The closest star system to our Solar System is Alpha Centauri. But is our Solar System the closest star system to Alpha Centuari? If not, which star system is?
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2answers
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How can comets have tails if there's no air resistance in space?

I understand that solar radiation causes material to vaporize out of a comet into dust but why does the dust then trail behind the comet like a "tail"? Assuming gravity is the only applied force ...
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9th planet location?

I've seen a number of news reports indicating there is likely a 9th planet in our Solar System, something with an orbital period of between 10k-20k years, that is 10 times Earth's mass. I haven't seen ...
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Why is our solar system “tipped” about 63° with respect to the plane of our galaxy?

Our own solar system is "tipped" by about 63 degrees with respect to the plane of the galaxy. Has it ever been researched or is there any scientific theory which could explain the reason why our solar ...
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1answer
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Considering our methods of exploration, how likely is it that there are unfound planets (not dwarf planets) in our solar system?

I think it's probably unlikely that there are more planets between Mercury and Mars, but out from Jupiter, there's lots of empty space between the planets. Could there be some small planet hidden out ...
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1answer
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Why do the planets in our solar system orbit in the same plane?

(Yes I'm excluding Pluto from this the same way it was excluded for not being a planet) Observing the planets orbit of the Sun they all seem relatively planar and roughly all orbit along the same ...
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Can our Sun become a black hole

Does every star become a black hole? Is there any probability that our sun can become a black hole? If yes then is it on its way to become a black hole? what is the current state of sun as per the ...
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Why is the Sun's density less than the inner planets?

The density of the Sun is $1410~\frac{\text{kg}}{\text{m}^{3}}$ and Mercury's is $5430~\frac{\text{kg}}{\text{m}^{3}}$, but shouldn't the Sun be denser? Because when the Solar System was forming, ...
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Why do (most of) the planets rotate counterclockwise, i.e. the same way the Sun does?

Referring to the mechanisms explaining the solar system formation and to the initial rotation of the gaseous cloud that collapsed, I understand easily why the planets orbit the Sun the same way this ...
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Pluto's orbit overlaps Neptune's, does this mean Pluto will hit Neptune sometime?

We know that the orbits of Pluto and Neptune overlap. This means that pluto sometimes crosses the orbit of Neptune; will Pluto hit Neptune in any circumstance?
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Is it odd that our Sun has so many planets?

The internet is abuzz with the new evidence of the possible ninth planet in our Solar System. With those nine objects, the asteroid belt, the Kuiper belt, and everything else in our Solar System - the ...
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Is Jupiter a failed star?

The elemental make-up of Jupiter is about entirely hydrogen and helium, along with a very small fraction of the atmosphere being made up of compounds such as ammonia, sulfur, methane, and water vapor. ...
23
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3answers
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Are we made of the stuff of one star or more stars?

[T]his coincidence enabled stars in the late stages of their lives to turn helium into carbon, oxygen and most of the other atoms that you and I are made of. [...] [W]e're made of star stuff. Max ...
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2answers
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Why do the planets orbit in the same direction?

Theoretically, planets would have an approximately equal chance of going one way in their orbit or another but in reality, this is not the case (at least in our solar system). Why is this?
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How much magnification is needed to see planets of solar system?

I have a 3inch Newtonian reflector telescope with 300 mm focal length. I can use highest magnification of 75x using a 4mm eyepiece. But in 75x I can't see the details of Jupiter what was expected. ...
21
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1answer
395 views

How often do comets survive passage by the Sun?

I had heard that comet ISON might not survive a close pass by our Sun, and I was curious about the odds of how other comets had fared. So, how often do other comets survive a close pass by our sun? ...
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Hypothetical trans-Neptunian planets orbiting the Sun

The planet HD 106906 b was found at 650 AU from its home star, a star not so different from the Sun. Fomalhaut b is also a young planet that is orbiting very far away from its star. These two planets ...
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How do we know Nemesis is not a black hole (or neutron star)?

Nemesis, the hypothetical "death star", is supposed to be a massive body that orbits the Sun at long distances and periodically sends comets from the Oort Cloud into the inner solar system. These ...
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1answer
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How do/did we figure out that planets move in orbits?

I've learned that planets move in orbits around the Sun, but I really don't know how I would come to this conclusion myself. I've only seen planets in the sky a couple times (knowingly), and I am ...
18
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What are the current observational constraints on the existence of Nemesis?

Nemesis is a hypothetical companion to the Sun on a very eccentric, long-period orbit. The star supposedly returns every few tens of millions years, driving comets into the inner solar system and ...
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2answers
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How many planetary systems exist in our galaxy?

For many years scientists have studied our own solar system and modern technology allows them to look deeper and deeper into space. Knowing the Sun is only one of a few billion stars in the Milky Way ...
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What reason is there to doubt the existence of the hypothesised planet Tyche in the far distant solar system?

Please note, I do not necessarily believe in its existence, just after a scientific (hence, non-Wikipedia) reasoning to doubt the planet's existence, other than the "we would have seen it" argument. ...
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Could the 9th planet be virtual?

Astronomers recently claim that there is evidence for a 9th planet. As far as I understood it, this is mainly based on coinciding orbital parameters of a few Kuiper belt objects. Could the 9th planet ...
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How long should it take for us to observationally determine if Caltech's Planet Nine is really there?

Caltech just released a report that says there is possibly a large (10 earth mass) planet in a remote orbit (10 - 20 thousand year) that explains a lot of observations of Kuiper Belt objects. How long ...
17
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1answer
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How did scientists determine an estimate of the number of planets greater than Sedna's size to exist in the Inner Oort Cloud?

In the article, New Dwarf Planet Found at Solar System's Edge, Hints at Possible Faraway 'Planet X' (Wall, 2014) where they report on research and observations performed by astronomers that discovered ...
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1answer
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Do we get any benefit from being in a galaxy?

If our solar system were to somehow be created outside of a galaxy as a single star in the vast nothingness between galaxies, would life on Earth change any? Does being a member of a galaxy actually ...
16
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1answer
409 views

Have we ever observed a body, such as a large asteroid, “hitting” the Sun?

Some other SE questions about launching ICBM's into the sun got me wondering whether we have ever observed an object on a path that intersected with the Sun? How close did it get?
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1answer
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Why is the solar system often shown as a 2D plane?

Whenever I have learned about the solar system I always see the orbits displayed as a virtually flat plane. Are all of the orbits in the solar system really like this? If so, why? It seems like a ...
16
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2answers
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Open problems in astronomy that an amateur (with a PhD in some other field) would have a chance of solving?

What are some open problems in astronomy that an amateur would have a chance of solving? Suppose the amateur has a PhD in some other field, owns a basic telescope, a set of filters, diffraction ...
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3answers
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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 (and based on an answer ...
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1answer
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Any possibility for life on moons of planets in our Solar System

We all focused on our moon, to find water or life, or any thing related to life. But my question is, is there any chance for life in moons of other planets in our solar system, others have too many ...
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What wavelength to best detect the “9th planet”?

We know that the reflected sunlight will make detecting the 9th planet very difficult in the visible light. Is there another band that will be more likely to detect it? What is the surface temperature ...
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Is Pluto still a dwarf planet?

Recent news seem to suggest that astronomers are arguing about whether Pluto should become a planet again. However, I cannot find an official source for this. Is this actually true?
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When will all eight planets in our solar system align?

Ignoring expansion of the universe, entropy, decaying orbits, and interference from any bodies colliding with or otherwise interfering with their orbits, will the eight planets known planets in our ...
15
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1answer
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Are any Pluto-sized objects remaining to be discovered in the Kuiper Belt?

An object approximately the same size as Pluto, Eris, was discovered only 8 years ago (in 2005). Are there any Pluto-sized objects remaining to be discovered, and if so, how far away from the Sun ...
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Does the gravity of the planets affect the orbit of other planets in our solar system?

When one planet passes near another during its trip around the sun, does their gravitational pull is strong enough to disrupt noticeably each other's orbit ?
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Is the Jupiter-Sun system considered a binary system of some type?

Since Jupiter is very massive, it is the only planet (in our solar system) that has a center of mass with the Sun that lies outside the volume of the Sun. (Source) If Jupiter was a star, they would ...
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1answer
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Why do comets appear to have a continuous supply of dust?

Comets orbiting the sun have a tail that points away from the Sun, due to the solar wind. (Strictly speaking, a comet can have both a type I tail - ion tail, and a type II tail - a dust tail. This ...
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2answers
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How can clouds form in Jupiter's atmosphere of Hydrogen and Helium?

Here is a graphic of cloud layers of Jupiter (source: Wikipedia): There are three distinct cloud layers of ammonia, ammonium hydrosulfide, and water. The temperature and pressure conditions seem to ...
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1answer
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Can the paper narrowing Solar System's barycentre to within 100m help find Planet Nine?

I've just read this recent news article, Astronomers Have Located The Centre of The Solar System to Within 100 Metres, reporting on a paper[1] that claims narrowing the Solar System barycentre to ...
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2answers
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What Causes the Large Radiation Fields Around Jupiter?

I had heard that the large radiation belts around Jupiter may be formed by liquid metallic hydrogen in (or around) Jupiter's core (which Wikipedia says haven't been observed in labs yet due to the ...
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2answers
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Do any known exoplanetary/solar bodies have “annular” eclipses similar to Earth's?

This was somewhat inspired by this question but is a bit different: I am interested in if there are any known systems in which the angular size of the eclipsing object is almost the same as the ...
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4answers
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How did the Earth come to be in orbit around the sun?

I'm not sure if this post should be in the physics subject forum, but this seems to fit here too. I have been reading a book about chemistry and how the universe came to be with the theory of stars ...
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How did the lighter elements end up in the center of the solar system? Solar System Formation

The previous generation of stars famously are the origin of all the heavier elements (up until iron?) in the solar system. So a big portion of the solar system mass actually is made up of Carbon, ...
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What is the name of our Solar System?

what is our Solar System called rather than "the Solar System"? I've found "Sol System" and "Monmatia", too, but is there more to it?

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