Solar System | Overview of our Solar System


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Solar System | Important Facts of Solar System

The Solar System is the gravitationally bound system of the Sun and the objects that orbit it, either directly or indirectly.

Our planetary system is named the “solar” system because our Sun is named Sol, after the Latin word for Sun, “solis,” and anything related to the Sun we call “solar.”  For this reason it is called Solar System.

The largest objects that orbit the Sun are the eight planets, the remainder being smaller objects, the dwarf planets and small Solar System bodies. The objects that orbit the Sun indirectly are the natural satellites in which two are larger than the smallest planet, Mercury. The planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, dwarf planets such as Pluto, dozens of moons and millions of asteroids, comets and meteoroids everything bound to Solar System by gravity.

The planetary Solar System we call our home is located in an outer spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy.

Beyond our own solar system, there are more planets than stars in night sky. So far, we have discovered thousands of planetary systems orbiting other stars in the Milky Way, with more planets being found all the time. Most of the hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy are thought to have planets of their own, and the Milky Way is but one of perhaps 100 billion galaxies in the universe.

Characteristics of the Solar System


4.568 billion years


Local Interstellar Cloud, Local Bubble, Orion, Cygnus Arm, Milky Way

System mass

1.0014 Solar masses

Nearest star

Proxima Centauri (4.25 light year)

Alpha Centauri (4.37 light year)

Nearest known planetary system

Proxima Centauri system (4.25 light year)

Planetary system

Semi-major axis of outer known planet (Neptune)

30.10 AU

(4.5 billion. Km; 2.8 billion. Miles)

Distance to Kuiper cliff

50 AU




1 (Sun)

Known planets

8 (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus & Neptune)

Known dwarf planets

2 universally accepted (Pluto &Eris)

Known natural satellites

575 (185 planetary 390 minor planetary)

Known minor planets


Known comets


Orbit about Galactic Centre

Invariable-to-galactic plane inclination

60.19° (ecliptic)

Distance to Galactic Center

27,000±1,000 light year

Orbital speed

220 km/s or  136 mps or  7,92,000 Km/h

Orbital period

225–250 myr ( Milky way year)

Star related properties

Spectral type


Frost line

≈5 AU


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Size and Distance of Solar System

Our solar system extends much beyond the eight planets that orbit the Sun. The solar system also includes the Kuiper Belt that lies past Neptune’s orbit. This is a sparsely occupied ring of icy bodies, almost all smaller than the most popular Kuiper Belt object & dwarf planet Pluto.

Formation of Solar System

Our solar system formed about 4.5 billion years ago from a dense cloud of interstellar gas and dust. The cloud collapsed, possibly due to the shockwave of a nearby exploding star, called a supernova. When this dust cloud collapsed, it formed a solar nebula, a spinning, swirling disk of material.

At the centre, gravity pulled more and more material in. Eventually the pressure in the core was so great that hydrogen atoms began to combine and form helium, releasing a tremendous amount of energy and our Sun was born. It eventually amassed more than 99 % of the available matter.

Matter farther out in the disk was also clumping together. These clumps smashed into one another, forming larger and larger objects. Some of them grew big enough for their gravity to shape them into spheres, becoming planets, dwarf planets and large moons. In other cases, planets did not form,  the asteroid belt is made of bits and pieces of the early solar system that could never quite come together into a planet. Other smaller leftover pieces became asteroids, comets, meteoroids, and small, irregular moons.

Structure of Solar System

The order and arrangement of the planets and other bodies in our solar system is due to the way the solar system formed. Only rocky material could withstand the heat nearest the Solar System when it was young. For this reason, the first four planets Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are terrestrial planets. They are small with solid, rocky surfaces.

Meanwhile, materials we are used to seeing as ice, liquid or gas settled in the outer regions of the young solar system. Gravity pulled these materials together, and that is where we find gas giants Jupiter and Saturn and ice giants Uranus and Neptune.

Potential for Life in Solar System

Our solar system is the only place we know of that harbors life, but the farther we explore the more we find potential for life in other places. Both Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus have global saltwater oceans under thick, icy shells.

Moons in the Solar System

There are more than 150 known moons in our solar system and several more awaiting confirmation of discovery. In the eight planets only Mercury and Venus have no moons. The giant planets grab the most moons. Jupiter and Saturn have long lead our solar system’s moon counts. In some ways, the swarms of moons around these worlds resemble mini versions of our solar system. Pluto, smaller than our own moon, has five moons in its orbit, including the Charon, a moon so large it makes Pluto wobble. Even tiny asteroids can have moons.

Ten Important Facts about the Solar System

One of Billions

Our solar system is made up of a star, eight planets and countless smaller bodies such as dwarf planets, asteroids and comets.

Meet me in the Orion arm

Our solar system orbits the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy at about 515,000 mph (828,000 kph). We’re in one of the galaxy’s four spiral arms.

A long way round

It takes our solar system about 230 million years to complete one orbit around the galactic center.

Spiraling through Space

There are three general kinds of galaxies: elliptical, spiral and irregular. The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy.

Terrestrial planets

The first four planets Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are terrestrial planets

Good Atmosphere(s)

Our solar system is a region of space. It has no atmosphere. But it contains many worlds including Earth with many kinds of atmospheres.

Many Moons

The planets of our solar system and even some asteroids hold more than 150 moons in their orbits.

Ring Worlds

The four giant planets and at least one asteroid have rings. None are as spectacular as Saturn’s gorgeous rings.

Leaving the Cradle

More than 300 robotic spacecraft have explored destinations beyond Earth orbit, including 24 astronauts who orbited the moon.

Life as we know it

Our solar system is the only one known to support life. So far, we only know of life on Earth, but we’re looking for more everywhere we can.

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