What's in a solar system

Solar system

The planets of our solar system: The sun can be seen a bit at the top. Then the planets follow below:
1. Mercury, 2. Venus
3. Earth, 4. Mars
5. Jupiter, 6. Saturn
7. Uranus, 8. Neptune
In the picture, the size of the planets is correct compared to each other. But in reality they are much further apart than in the picture and also not arranged from top to bottom.

In a solar system, planets and other celestial bodies orbit a sun. When you use the term solar system, you usually mean the solar system in which the earth is located, ie "our" solar system. The earth is one of eight planets in it. Our solar system is roughly four and a half billion years old. That's 4,500,000,000 years.

More solar systems have been discovered since around 1990. They are far from us, but still in our galaxy. With special telescopes it was recognized that some stars flicker a little now and then. This is because at that moment a planet in the solar system is covering the star. Some solar systems have a single star, others two.

What does everything belong to our solar system?

Our solar system includes the sun and all celestial bodies, gases and dust particles that are bound to the sun by attraction. The sun is in the middle. It also revolves around itself. The eight planets revolve around the sun on their different orbits. Our planets are called: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Six of the planets have their own moons orbiting them. From Earth you can only see Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mars with the naked eye. They look like stars at night.

There are also dwarf planets like Pluto or Ceres. They are similar to small planets, but they still share their orbits with other celestial bodies. The astronomers say they haven't "cleaned up" their orbit yet.

What else is buzzing around the sun?

Many rocks orbits the sun between the planets Mars and Jupiter. These chunks are called asteroids. There are over 650,000 such chunks in the so-called "asteroid belt".

If an asteroid changes its trajectory from there, it can fly straight towards Earth. Most of these chunks burn up in the atmosphere and become shining shooting stars. But when a boulder reaches the earth, it is called a meteorite. Meteorite falls occur on Earth a few times each year.

Other celestial bodies in our solar system are comets. They're big chunks of ice, dust, and other things. They fly around the sun in very elongated oval orbits. Comets often take a long time to travel. Most of the time, they are very far from the sun. With each orbit, however, they come close to the sun, then part of the ice melts and forms a bright tail of steam and dust.

  • Saturn is known for its rings, even if it is not the only planet with rings.

  • Above you can see the planet Jupiter, below is one of its moons: Europe

  • The asteroid Vesta, photo from a space probe

  • Comets are also part of the solar system. Here you can see one in the evening sky of the earth.