How Big is OUR Solar System?

“The Solar System is the gravitationally bound system comprising the Sun and the objects that orbit it, either directly or indirectly. Of those objects that orbit the Sun directly, the largest eight are the planets,  with the remainder being significantly smaller objects, such as dwarf planets and small Solar System bodies. Of the objects that orbit the Sun indirectly, the moons, two are larger than the smallest planet, Mercury.

The Solar System formed 4.6 billion years ago from the gravitational collapse of a giant interstellar molecular cloud. The vast majority of the system’s mass is in the Sun, with the majority of the remaining mass contained in Jupiter. The four smaller inner planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars, are terrestrial planets, being primarily composed of rock and metal. The four outer planets are giant planets, being substantially more massive than the terrestrials. The two largest, Jupiter and Saturn, are gas giants, being composed mainly of hydrogen and helium; the two outermost planets, Uranus and Neptune, are ice giants, being composed mostly of substances with relatively high melting points compared with hydrogen and helium, called volatiles, such as water, ammonia, and methane. All eight planets have almost circular orbits that lie within a nearly flat disc called the ecliptic.”

“The solar system does not really end with Pluto. Besides the planets, there is a thin haze of dust (some of it bunched into comets). Any of this dust that is nearer to the Sun than to any other star may be in the gravitational hold of the Sun and so counts as part of the solar system. So the outermost of such dust may be half way to the nearest star.

On the scale of our model, Pluto is a thousand yards or rather more than a half a mile out. But this true limit of the solar system is two thousand miles out.

A thousand miles, in our model, is the distance called a light-year (in reality, about six million miles).

The distance to the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is 4.2 such light-years.

The human mind can never conceive this thing called a light-year, which is the currency of our small-talk about the universe. (It is probable that we cannot directly conceive any distances above about 600 yards, which is where we sub- consciously place the horizon). But through the model, we move as far toward conceiving it as we ever can.

I, at least, have seemed to have some respect for the term, light-year; and to have some sense of what I mean when I use it-since I made the sensory approach to it through this model.

The rest of the stars in our galaxy are probably on the order of four to ten light-years apart from each other, as we are from our nearest neighbor.

This is a stunning thought when (having done the Thousand-Yard exercise) you go out at night and look at the Milky Way. It is a haze of light so delicate that it can no longer be seen from inside our light-ridden cities. It consists of the bulk of the stars in our galaxy, piled up in the distance, so numerous and so faint that we cannot see them separately. Yet they are all the same kind of distance from each other as we are from the nearest of them. That is if we could hop to any one of them, cavernous black space would open out around us, and the Sun itself would become part of that same dense far-off wall of stars, the Milky Way!”

What does Science Tell Us About Rainbows?

“A rainbow is a meteorological phenomenon that is caused by reflection, refraction, and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky. It takes the form of a multicolored arc. Rainbows caused by sunlight always appear in the section of sky directly opposite the sun.

Rainbows can be full circles. However, the observer normally sees only an arc formed by illuminated droplets above the ground and centered on a line from the sun to the observer’s eye.

In a primary rainbow, the arc shows red on the outer part and violet on the inner side. This rainbow is caused by light being refracted when entering a droplet of water, then reflected inside on the back of the droplet and refracted again when leaving it.

In a double rainbow, a second arc is seen outside the primary arc and has the order of its colors reversed, with red on the inner side of the arc. This is caused by the light being reflected twice on the inside of the droplet before exiting it.”

“The traditional description of the rainbow is that it is made up of seven colors – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Actually, the rainbow is a whole continuum of colors from red to violet and even beyond the colors that the eye can see.

The colors of the rainbow arise from two basic facts:

  • Sunlight is made up of the whole range of colors that the eye can detect. The range of sunlight colors, when combined, looks white to the eye. This property of sunlight was first demonstrated by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666.
  • Light of different colors is refracted by different amounts when it passes from one medium (air, for example) into another (water or glass, for example).

Descartes and Willebrord Snell had determined how a ray of light is bent, or refracted, as it traverses regions of different densities, such as air and water. When the light paths through a raindrop are traced for red and blue light, one finds that the angle of deviation is different for the two colors because blue light is bent or refracted more than is the red light.  This implies that when we see a rainbow and its band of colors we are looking at light refracted and reflected from different raindrops, some viewed at an angle of 42 degrees; some, at an angle of 40 degrees, and some in between.”

Why is the Sky Any Color?

“Everyone at one time or another has marveled at the beautiful red and orange colors of a sunrise or sunset. Although colorful sunrises and sunsets can be seen anywhere, certain parts of the world are especially famous for their twilight hues. The deserts and tropics quickly come to mind. Indeed, it is a rare issue of Arizona Highways that does not include at least one sunset view, and one could amass a respectable collection of the Caribbean or Hawaiian sunset postcards in just one trip.

To understand why this is so, one need only recall how typical sky colors are produced. The familiar blue of the daytime sky is the result of the selective scattering of sunlight by air molecules. Scattering is the scientific term used to describe the reflection or re-direction of light by small particles. Scattering by dust or by water droplets is responsible for the shafts of light that appear when the sun partly illuminates a smoky room or mist-laden forest. Selective scattering, also known as Rayleigh scattering (after the nineteenth century English physicist Lord Rayleigh), is used to describe scattering that varies with the wavelength of the incident light. Particles are good Rayleigh scatterers when they are very small compared to the wavelength of the light.”

The ancient Greek poet Homer never used a word for blue in The Odyssey or The Iliad, because blue is one of the last colors that cultures pick out a word for. In this episode, I’ll tell you not only why the sky is blue, but why it’s red at sunset. It turns out, those colors are all part of the same sunbeam. And when you’re looking at a blue sky, you could be sharing a special moment with someone thousands of miles away. Next time a kid (or the kid inside you) wants to know why the sky is blue, you’ll have science to back you up!

What Is The Science and Beauty of Auroras?

“The Aurora is an incredible light show caused by collisions between electrically charged particles released from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere and collide with gases such as oxygen and nitrogen. The lights are seen around the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres.

Auroras that occur in the northern hemisphere are called ‘Aurora Borealis’ or ‘northern lights’ and auroras that occur in the southern hemisphere are called ‘Aurora Australis’ or ‘southern lights’.

Both Aurora’s can be seen in the northern or southern hemisphere, in an irregularly shaped oval centred over each magnetic pole. Scientists have learned that in most instances northern and southern auroras are mirror-like images that occur at the same time, with similar shapes and colours. Auroral displays can appear in many vivid colours, although green is the most common. Colours such as red, yellow, green, blue and violet are also seen occasionally. The auroras can appear in many forms, from small patches of light that appear out of nowhere to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an incredible glow.”

Space might seem like an empty place, but the area surrounding Earth is constantly being bombarded by waves of charged particles released by the Sun: The solar wind. Luckily, thanks to Earth’s swirling, molten core (and the magnetic field it provides), we are protected from this planet-sterilizing onslaught like an invisible force field
All that science has a beautiful side effect: It makes the auroras! The Northern and Southern lights are the result of the solar wind and its dance with Earth’s magnetic field and polar atmosphere. It’s Earth’s own cosmic light show!

What are The Strangest Planets In Space?

Strangest planets in space discovered along the years of explorations in space. Check out the strangest planets in space! These planet discoveries in the universe will definitely get you thinking!

HD 188753
A planet was discovered to have not one, not two, but three suns glowing in the sky. It is located in HD 188753, a triple-star system located 149 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. Similar to Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine that had 2 suns, this Jupiter-like planet must have spectacular sunsets. The main star is similar in mass to our own sun and it orbits very close to it, completing one orbit every 3.5 days. It is still a complete mystery as to how this planet formed in such a complicated setting as the 3 stars would all be pulling it in 3 different directions.

This volcanic inferno was the first rocky planet confirmed to be orbiting another star outside of our solar system.
Known as a Super Earth, it orbits a star 480 light-years away and weighs about 5x the mass of Earth. It is 23x closer to its star than Mercury is to our sun, bringing its surface temperature up to a hellish 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,200 degrees Celsius).
The same side is always facing the star and the other side is always in shadow, where temperatures can drop to minus 350 F (minus 210 C).
This rocky planet may be the leftover core of a former gas giant whose atmosphere evaporated a long time ago. If so, it would be the first kind of this type of planet.
The extreme heat is so terrible that it can actually vaporize rock. Its atmosphere could have weather systems that cause pebbles to condense out of the air and rain rocks onto the molten surface of the planet. Since it is so close to its star, it is very likely that this planet was once much larger, and is now evaporating before our eyes.

TrES-2b: The Dark Planet
Since the Dark Planet is much more memorable name than TrES-2b, we’ll just stick with that. This planet is literally darker than coal. Discovered by NASA’s Kepler space telescope in 2006, it is the size of Jupiter and orbits a star around 750 light-years from Earth. Its nickname, the ‘Dark Planet’ comes from its unique status as the darkest planetary object in the known Universe. This gas giant is heated to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit (980 degrees Celsius) and orbits extremely close to its parent star.
According to current computer models, hot planets like Jupiter that are gas giants could only be as dark as Mercury, which reflects only 10% of the sunlight that hits it. It is very strange that the Dark Planet only reflects about 1% of the light that hits it. It is even less reflective than coal and black acrylic paint. If we could see it up-close, it would look like a black ball of gas with a faint red glow.

55 Cancri e – The Diamond Planet
Initially discovered in 2004, 55 Cancri e (also known as Janssen) has been a mystery ever since the first analyses came through about its composition. Approximately the mass of 8 piles of earth, it orbits its host star about 40 light years away from our solar system. Temperatures reach up to 3,100 Fahrenheit, and measurements of a transit captured in 2011 made it possible to calculate its density, and this is where it got interesting. It appears that this planet is actually solid and made up of a carbon-rich material, rather than the oxygen rich material that forms the rocky planets in our solar system. As a result, it is very likely that this rocky planet is covered in carbon that has turned into diamond and graphite.
According to the current market value of the diamond, it would be worth $26.9 nonillion. Forbes states that only 0.182% of the planet would need to be mined to pay back the entire debt that has been accumulated by all the governments on earth.

The ‘Wide Area Search for Planets’, also known as WASP, first discovered this planet in 2008, 600 light-years away. It orbits incredibly close to its parent star, about 1/44th of the distance that our planet orbits our sun, giving it a surface temperature of around 2200 degrees Celsius (3992 degrees Fahrenheit). It is the hottest known planet in the Milky Way and it may also be the shortest-lived.
The doomed planet is getting eaten by its parent star and the star’s tidal forces are pulling away its atmosphere, turning it into an egg shape.
This is the first time that we have been able to observe a star consuming a planet so clearly.
At the current rate, WASP-12B may be entirely gone within 10 million years.

What are Space´s Mysteries UNSOLVED?

Space is one of the vast spaces where a human being has searched for years learning many things about our planet and how we live in here. Still, many mysteries remain. Check out these unsolved mysteries of space! Do aliens have anything to do with these science mysteries of the universe?

The Galactic Phantom
While comets might be some of the more familiar objects we know of in space, and people have been observing them for thousands of years, the question is, where are these comets all coming from? And if their surface material starts to vaporize as they travel, it means they must have formed farther away, where they would have existed for most of their life.
In time, these observations led to the theory that far beyond the Sun and planets, there exists an invisible. hypothetical expanse of space, made up of a large cloud of icy material and rock.
Known as the Oort Cloud, scientists believe it exists as it would be the only plausible explanation for comets that follow a strange orbit in sync with a massive celestial cloud.
Everything in our solar system also has a faint gravitational connection to the Oort Cloud and is possibly surrounded by it. Kind of a lot of responsibility for something that we’re not even sure exists. If the Oort Cloud doesn’t exist, then where are comets coming from? And what is causing the faint gravitational connections caused by the galactic phantom?

Dark Flow
Astronomers have observed that galaxy clusters are constantly moving towards a point in the southern constellations of Centaurus and Hydra at a million mph. They have no idea what is causing this mysterious motion of galaxy clusters and have called it the Dark Flow.
Research led by Alexander Kashlinsky at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, tracks this collective motion that appears to be independent of the expansion of the universe and its direction is still not certain. We don’t know if these galaxies are coming or going. Also, they aren’t slowing down.
What makes this really strange—as if it wasn’t already pretty weird—is that the present distribution of mass in our universe does not account for dark flow. This suggests that an external source outside our universe is influencing and moving matter from our vicinity.
Kashlinsky suggests that our universe exists in a bubble, rubbing up against other bubbles formed during the big bang. He believes that our universe is expanding within this bubble and the large thing pulling at the galaxies might be in another bubble, influencing their motion and pulling them towards whatever it is. But of course it’s just a theory, so if you have any ideas, please let us know!

We only see 4% of the universe
The stars, planets, and galaxies that we see when we look up at the night sky make up just 4% of the universe. Most of the universe is made of things that we can’t see, detect, or understand.
The other 96% is considered dark energy and dark matter which account for the vast majority of the universe. While these things can’t be seen, astronomers infer their presence because of their gravitational influences on the little bits of the universe that we can see.
Dark matter was sort-of discovered in the 60s and 70s. In theory it is what keeps galaxies together. Astronomer Vera Rubin discovered that stars on the outskirt of galaxies move at the same speed as stars closer to the center of those galaxies. This should make the galaxies wildly unstable but they aren’t. The only explanation is some unseen material exerting a gravitational force although scientists have no idea what it’s made of. Many people have spent their entire career trying to figure out what it is. The Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator in Geneva may finally solve the puzzle.
In the mid-1990s, researchers were looking into how fast the universe was expanding and determine whether or not it would one day pull back into itself in a “Big Crunch”. What they discovered was that the universe’s expansion was accelerating. This should be impossible because the gravity of all the mass in the cosmos should be pulling the universe back inward. The solution was that there must be something pulling and counteracting the effects of gravity, so they came up with the concept of dark energy.
What scientists know for sure is that these two things they know nothing about, account for most of the universe.

 Hole in space
Astronomers have discovered an empty section of space which is missing around 10,000 galaxies. The ‘supervoid’, which is 1.8 billion light-years across, is too big to fit into predicted models and should be too big to even exist.
Scientists are baffled about what it is and why it is so barren. Other supervoids have been found before but this is the largest by far.