Portal:Solar System

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The Solar System Portal

The Sun and planets of the Solar System (distances not to scale)

The Solar System is the gravitationally bound system of the Sun and the objects that orbit the star. The largest of such objects are the eight planets, in order from the Sun: four terrestrial planets named Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, two gas giants named Jupiter and Saturn, and two ice giants named Uranus and Neptune. The terrestrial planets have a definite surface and are mostly made of rock and metal. The gas giants are mostly made of hydrogen and helium, while the ice giants are mostly made of 'volatile' substances such as water, ammonia, and methane. In some texts, these terrestrial and giant planets are called the inner Solar System and outer Solar System planets respectively.

The Solar System was formed 4.6 billion years ago from the gravitational collapse of a giant interstellar molecular cloud. Over time, the cloud formed the Sun and a protoplanetary disk that gradually coalesced to form planets and other objects. That is the reason why all eight planets have an orbit that lies near the same plane. In the present day, 99.86% of the Solar System's mass is in the Sun and most of the remaining mass is contained in the planet Jupiter. Six planets, six largest possible dwarf planets and many other bodies have natural satellites or moons orbiting around them. All giant planets and a few smaller bodies are encircled by planetary rings, composed of ice, dust and sometimes moonlets.

There are an unknown number of smaller dwarf planets and innumerable small bodies orbiting the Sun. These objects are distributed in the asteroid belt that lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, the Kuiper belt, the scattered disc that both lies beyond Neptune's orbit and at even further reaches of the Solar System which they would be classified as an extreme trans-Neptunian object. There is consensus among astronomers to these nine objects as dwarf planets: the asteroid Ceres, the Kuiper-belt objects Pluto, Orcus, Haumea, Quaoar, and Makemake, and the scattered-disc objects Gonggong, Eris, and Sedna. Many small-body populations, including comets, centaurs and interplanetary dust clouds, freely travel between the regions of the Solar System.

The solar wind, a stream of charged particles flowing outwards from the Sun, creates a bubble-like region of the interplanetary medium in the interstellar medium known as the heliosphere. The heliopause is the point at which pressure from the solar wind is equal to the opposing pressure of the interstellar medium; it extends out to the edge of the scattered disc. The Oort cloud, which is thought to be the source for long-period comets, may also exist at a distance roughly a thousand times further than the heliosphere. The nearest stars to the Solar System are within the Local Bubble; the closest star is named Proxima Centauri and is at a distance of 4.2441 light-years away. (Full article...)

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Io, with two plumes erupting from its surface.
Io, with two plumes erupting from its surface.
Volcanism on Io, a moon of Jupiter, produces lava flows, volcanic pits, and plumes of sulfur and sulfur dioxide hundreds of kilometres high. This volcanic activity was discovered in 1979 by Voyager 1 imaging scientists. Observations of Io by passing spacecraft and Earth-based astronomers have revealed more than 150 active volcanoes. Io's volcanism makes the satellite one of only four known volcanically active worlds in the solar system. First predicted shortly before the Voyager 1 flyby, the heat source for Io's volcanism comes from tidal heating produced by Io's forced orbital eccentricity. Io's volcanism has led to the formation of hundreds of volcanic centres and extensive lava formations, making the moon the most volcanically active body in the solar system. Three different types of volcanic eruptions have been identified, differing in duration, intensity, lava effusion rate, and whether the eruption occurs within a volcanic pit. Lava flows on Io, tens or hundreds of kilometres long, have primarily basaltic composition, similar to lavas seen on Earth at shield volcanoes such as Kīlauea in Hawaii. As a result of the presence of significant quantities of sulfurous materials in Io's crust and on its surface, during some eruptions, sulfur, sulfur dioxide gas, and pyroclastic material are blown up to 500 kilometres (310 mi) into space, producing large, umbrella-shaped volcanic plumes. (Full article...)

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Great Comet of 1577

  • ...that the passing of the Great Comet of 1577 (pictured) caused almost century-long debate, during which Galileo argued that comets were merely optical illusions?


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The SunMercuryVenusThe MoonEarthMarsPhobos and DeimosCeresThe main asteroid beltJupiterMoons of JupiterSaturnMoons of SaturnUranusMoons of UranusNeptuneMoons of NeptunePlutoMoons of PlutoHaumeaMoons of HaumeaMakemakeThe Kuiper BeltErisDysnomiaThe Scattered DiscThe Hills CloudThe Oort CloudSolar System Template Final.png

Solar System: Planets (Definition · Planetary habitability · Terrestrial planets · Gas giants · Rings· Dwarf planets (Plutoid· Colonization · Discovery timelineˑ Exploration · Moons · Planetariums

Sun: Sunspot · Solar wind · Solar flare · Solar eclipse
Mercury: Geology · Exploration (Mariner 10 · MESSENGER · BepiColombo· Transit
Venus: Geology · Atmosphere · Exploration (Venera · Mariner program 2/5/10 · Pioneer · Vega 1/2ˑ Magellan · Venus Express· Transit
Earth: History · Geology · Geography · Atmosphere · Rotation
Moon: Geology · Selenography · Atmosphere · Exploration (Luna · Apollo 8/11· Orbit · Lunar eclipse
Mars: Moons (Phobos · Deimos) · Geology · Geography · Atmosphere · Exploration (Mariner · Mars · Viking 1/2 · Pathfinder · MER)
Ceres: Exploration (Dawn)
Jupiter: Moons (Amalthea, Io · Europa · Ganymede · Callisto) · Rings · Atmosphere · Magnetosphere · Exploration (Pioneer 10/11 · Voyager 1/2 · Ulysses · Cassini · Galileo · New Horizons)
Saturn: Moons (Mimas · Enceladus · Tethys · Dione · Rhea · Titan · Iapetus) · Rings · Exploration (Pioneer 11 · Voyager 1/2 · CassiniHuygens)
Uranus: Moons (Miranda · Ariel · Umbriel · Titania · Oberon) · Rings · Exploration (Voyager 2)
Neptune: Moons (Triton) · Rings · Exploration (Voyager 2)
Planets beyond Neptune
Pluto: Moons (Charon, Nix, Hydra, Kerberos, Styx) · Exploration (New Horizons)
Haumea: Moons (Hi'iaka, Namaka)
Eris: Dysnomia
Small bodies: Meteoroids · Asteroids (Asteroid belt· Centaurs · TNOs (Kuiper belt · Scattered disc · Oort cloud· Comets (Hale–Bopp · Halley's · Hyakutake · Shoemaker–Levy 9)
Formation and evolution of the Solar System: History of Solar System formation and evolution hypotheses · Nebular hypothesis
See also: Featured content · Featured topic · Good articles · List of objects

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Italicized articles are on dwarf planets or major moons.

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