Solar System Model and How to Identify the Planets
As far as we’re aware, the universe is infinite. There are planets and galaxies beyond what we’ve explored. Our Solar System model is one of many. But, what planets do surround our Earth? And, how do we identify them? In today’s blog, we’re shooting into outer space to answer these questions.
What is a Solar System?
Our Solar System model is the gravitationally bound system of the Sun and the objects that orbit it. Of all these objects, the largest are the eight planets. Otherwise, they are smaller dwarf plants. Indirect objects that orbit the sun are “natural satellites”. For example, our moon. Some moons are larger than the smallest planet, Mercury.
The Solar System model formed 4.6 billion years ago due to a collapse of a molecular cloud. Amongst the planets and dwarf planets sit:
- astroid belts
- dust clouds
These travel freely between regions.
The model is located 26,000 light years from the centre of the Milky Way galaxy. This galaxy contains most of the visible stars in the night sky.
Most people up to the Renaissance believe Earth was stationary at the centre of the universe. And thus, different from the divine or ethereal objects that moved through the sky. It wasn’t until 1704 when the term “Solar System” first appeared in English. Before this, various scientists collected evidence of other planets and space objects.
Originally, there were thought to be 9 planets in the Solar System model. This is because of the discovery in Pluto in 1930. However, in the late 1990s astronomers argued whether Pluto was too small to be a planet. Resulting ultimately in its designation to “dwarf planet”. Yet, scientists are still searching for a possible 9th planet, “Planet X”. It is believed to be about 10 times the mass of the Earth.
How to Identify the Planets
Hidden planets aside, it can be relatively simple to distinguish the planets in our Solar System model. Check them out in order from closest to furthest from the Sun.
Orbiting the Sun in only 88 days, Mercury is the smallest planet. Its size is only slightly larger than Earth’s moon. Because its so close, it experiences dramatic changes in temperature. Day time reaches a high of 840 F. Meanwhile, night drops to -290 F. Mercury is identified by its crater-filled surface.
Spinning the opposite direction to most planets, Venus displays its toxic atmosphere of sulphuric acid clouds. It is twice the size of the Earth. Additionally, Venus is scorching hot coming in at 900 F and has a pressure at the surface that would crush you.
Our home planet, Earth is the third closest to the Sun. Covered by two-thirds ocean, it is the only world know to harbour life.
Also known as the red planet, Mars is a cool, desert-like place covered in dust. Evidence suggest that at one point billions of years ago it was a much warmer, wetter place. Because of these conditions, scientists believe ancient Mars had the conditions to support life like bacteria and other microbes.
Appearing like a beautiful rock gem, Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System model. In fact, it’s more than twice the size of all the other planets combined. The beautiful hues on its surface are due to different types of gasses. As well as a giant storm that has raged for the last 150 years. What’s more, Jupiter has a strong magnetic field drawing in 75 moons.
Saturn is well distinguished by its rings. Constructed of ice and rock, scientists don’t know yet how they formed. Mostly hydrogen and helium, Saturn has numerous moons.
Uranus is an odd one. Consisting of hydrogen sulphide clouds, it rotates east to west like Venus. But, unlike other plants, it orbits on its side. Thus, causing extreme seasons which last 20-plus years. Additionally, appearance-wise, Uranus has 13 sets of faint rings.
Known for supersonic strong winds, Neptune is far out of the Solar System model and cold. It was first predicted to exist via Math before it was visually detected. Blue in colour, Neptune is 17 times larger than the Earth.