The Earth and the Moon (The Solar System)

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Some are small in scale and may be mechanical—called orreries —whereas others extend across cities or regional areas.


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Distances of selected bodies of the Solar System from the Sun. The left and right edges of each bar correspond to the perihelion and aphelion of the body, respectively, hence long bars denote high orbital eccentricity. The radius of the Sun is 0. As the region that would become the Solar System, known as the pre-solar nebula , [44] collapsed, conservation of angular momentum caused it to rotate faster. The centre, where most of the mass collected, became increasingly hotter than the surrounding disc.

Hundreds of protoplanets may have existed in the early Solar System, but they either merged or were destroyed, leaving the planets, dwarf planets, and leftover minor bodies. Due to their higher boiling points, only metals and silicates could exist in solid form in the warm inner Solar System close to the Sun, and these would eventually form the rocky planets of Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.

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Because metallic elements only comprised a very small fraction of the solar nebula, the terrestrial planets could not grow very large. The giant planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune formed further out, beyond the frost line, the point between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter where material is cool enough for volatile icy compounds to remain solid.

The ices that formed these planets were more plentiful than the metals and silicates that formed the terrestrial inner planets, allowing them to grow massive enough to capture large atmospheres of hydrogen and helium, the lightest and most abundant elements. Leftover debris that never became planets congregated in regions such as the asteroid belt , Kuiper belt , and Oort cloud.

The Nice model is an explanation for the creation of these regions and how the outer planets could have formed in different positions and migrated to their current orbits through various gravitational interactions. Within 50 million years, the pressure and density of hydrogen in the centre of the protostar became great enough for it to begin thermonuclear fusion.

At this point, the Sun became a main-sequence star. This will mark the end of the Sun's main-sequence life. At this time, the core of the Sun will contract with hydrogen fusion occurring along a shell surrounding the inert helium, and the energy output will be much greater than at present. The outer layers of the Sun will expand to roughly times its current diameter, and the Sun will become a red giant.

Because of its vastly increased surface area, the surface of the Sun will be considerably cooler 2, K at its coolest than it is on the main sequence. Eventually, the core will be hot enough for helium fusion; the Sun will burn helium for a fraction of the time it burned hydrogen in the core. The Sun is not massive enough to commence the fusion of heavier elements, and nuclear reactions in the core will dwindle. Its outer layers will move away into space, leaving a white dwarf , an extraordinarily dense object, half the original mass of the Sun but only the size of Earth.

A “Nice” story

The Sun is the Solar System's star and by far its most massive component. Its large mass , Earth masses , [54] which comprises The Sun is a G2-type main-sequence star. Hotter main-sequence stars are more luminous. The Sun's temperature is intermediate between that of the hottest stars and that of the coolest stars. The Sun is a population I star ; it has a higher abundance of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium " metals " in astronomical parlance than the older population II stars.

This potential moon outside of the solar system isn't anything like ours

The oldest stars contain few metals, whereas stars born later have more. This high metallicity is thought to have been crucial to the Sun's development of a planetary system because the planets form from the accretion of "metals". The vast majority of the Solar System consists of a near- vacuum known as the interplanetary medium. Along with light , the Sun radiates a continuous stream of charged particles a plasma known as the solar wind. This stream of particles spreads outwards at roughly 1.

Earth's magnetic field stops its atmosphere from being stripped away by the solar wind. The interaction of this magnetic field and material with Earth's magnetic field funnels charged particles into Earth's upper atmosphere, where its interactions create aurorae seen near the magnetic poles.

The heliosphere and planetary magnetic fields for those planets that have them partially shield the Solar System from high-energy interstellar particles called cosmic rays. The density of cosmic rays in the interstellar medium and the strength of the Sun's magnetic field change on very long timescales, so the level of cosmic-ray penetration in the Solar System varies, though by how much is unknown.

The interplanetary medium is home to at least two disc-like regions of cosmic dust. The first, the zodiacal dust cloud , lies in the inner Solar System and causes the zodiacal light. It was likely formed by collisions within the asteroid belt brought on by gravitational interactions with the planets. The inner Solar System is the region comprising the terrestrial planets and the asteroid belt.


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This region is also within the frost line , which is a little less than 5 AU about million km from the Sun. The four terrestrial or inner planets have dense, rocky compositions, few or no moons , and no ring systems. They are composed largely of refractory minerals, such as the silicates—which form their crusts and mantles —and metals, such as iron and nickel, which form their cores. Three of the four inner planets Venus, Earth and Mars have atmospheres substantial enough to generate weather; all have impact craters and tectonic surface features, such as rift valleys and volcanoes. The term inner planet should not be confused with inferior planet , which designates those planets that are closer to the Sun than Earth is i.

Mercury and Venus.

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Asteroids except for the largest, Ceres, are classified as small Solar System bodies [e] and are composed mainly of refractory rocky and metallic minerals, with some ice. Asteroids smaller than one meter are usually called meteoroids and micrometeoroids grain-sized , depending on different, somewhat arbitrary definitions. The asteroid belt occupies the orbit between Mars and Jupiter, between 2. It is thought to be remnants from the Solar System's formation that failed to coalesce because of the gravitational interference of Jupiter. The outer region of the Solar System is home to the giant planets and their large moons.

The centaurs and many short-period comets also orbit in this region. Due to their greater distance from the Sun, the solid objects in the outer Solar System contain a higher proportion of volatiles, such as water, ammonia, and methane than those of the inner Solar System because the lower temperatures allow these compounds to remain solid.

For these reasons, some astronomers suggest they belong in their own category, ice giants. The term superior planet designates planets outside Earth's orbit and thus includes both the outer planets and Mars. The centaurs are icy comet-like bodies whose orbits have semi-major axes greater than Jupiter's 5. Comets are small Solar System bodies, [e] typically only a few kilometres across, composed largely of volatile ices. They have highly eccentric orbits, generally a perihelion within the orbits of the inner planets and an aphelion far beyond Pluto.

When a comet enters the inner Solar System, its proximity to the Sun causes its icy surface to sublimate and ionise , creating a coma : a long tail of gas and dust often visible to the naked eye. Short-period comets have orbits lasting less than two hundred years. Long-period comets have orbits lasting thousands of years.

Short-period comets are thought to originate in the Kuiper belt, whereas long-period comets, such as Hale—Bopp , are thought to originate in the Oort cloud. Many comet groups, such as the Kreutz Sungrazers , formed from the breakup of a single parent. Beyond the orbit of Neptune lies the area of the " trans-Neptunian region ", with the doughnut-shaped Kuiper belt, home of Pluto and several other dwarf planets, and an overlapping disc of scattered objects, which is tilted toward the plane of the Solar System and reaches much further out than the Kuiper belt. The entire region is still largely unexplored.

It appears to consist overwhelmingly of many thousands of small worlds—the largest having a diameter only a fifth that of Earth and a mass far smaller than that of the Moon—composed mainly of rock and ice. This region is sometimes described as the "third zone of the Solar System", enclosing the inner and the outer Solar System.

The Kuiper belt is a great ring of debris similar to the asteroid belt, but consisting mainly of objects composed primarily of ice. Though it is estimated to contain anything from dozens to thousands of dwarf planets, it is composed mainly of small Solar System bodies. Many of the larger Kuiper belt objects, such as Quaoar , Varuna , and Orcus , may prove to be dwarf planets with further data. The Kuiper belt can be roughly divided into the " classical " belt and the resonances. The first resonance begins within the orbit of Neptune itself.

The classical belt consists of objects having no resonance with Neptune, and extends from roughly The scattered disc, which overlaps the Kuiper belt but extends much further outwards, is thought to be the source of short-period comets. Scattered-disc objects are thought to have been ejected into erratic orbits by the gravitational influence of Neptune's early outward migration. SDOs' orbits are also highly inclined to the ecliptic plane and are often almost perpendicular to it.