Life – Our Unique Solar System
This is a different post from my regular ones, and it deals with astronomy. The science of astronomy and astrology, the art of photography and writing, the creativity involved in movies and life giving Mother Nature – all make me awestruck and compel me to know more. I am a curious student of all these subjects as far as gaining knowledge is concerned. The other day I was watching a documentary on solar system and life on Earth and I thought how incredibly lucky we are. So I am going to present some facts about our solar system and the planet on which we live. I am not trying to interpret something new. These are the facts which are there for a long time before they were discovered by astronomers. I just want everybody to take a moment from our self-absorbed lives and wonder how perfectly everything is designed to protect, nurture and sustain us, humans, so that we can live with comfort. How fortunate we are, indeed!!!
The first part presents the facts about The Solar System.
- Our solar system is located 26,000 light years* from the center of our galaxy. The center of every galaxy has a black hole resulting in dense concentration of stars and hence harmful radiation in that zone. The solar system is at a safe distance.
- It is present between the two spiral arms of our galaxy. Relatively empty space with few stars.
- Most stars in any galaxy are small, red dwarfs and don’t have right amount of light to sustain life on an earth-like planet. Our sun is an ideal type – middle-aged, not too hot or too large and independent, without multiple stars system.
- The structure of Solar System is also quite interesting. All the rocky planets are close to the Sun, in the habitable zone**, while the gas giants are far away.
- Giant outer planets like Jupiter, Saturn protect Earth by either absorbing or deflecting large objects like asteroids or comets, which are on its course to hit our planet.***
- There are two belts (or protective layers) of rocks, asteroids, dwarf planets in the solar system making a type of shield for Earth. Kuiper belt, present after Neptune, is a vast region containing icy objects and encircles solar system. Another one known as Asteroid belt is located roughly between the orbits of planets Mars and Jupiter.
All these factors make our Solar System capable of evading any external calamities to our planet (most of the times). In the next post, I will present facts about uniqueness of our planet – The Earth.
*Light years is defined as the distance traveled by light in one year.
**The habitable zone, colloquially known as the Goldilocks zone, is the region around a star within which planetary-mass objects with sufficient atmospheric pressure can support liquid water at their surfaces. Out of 1900 planets, 1200 planetary systems discovered till date, none can support life as they orbit too close to their present star and most of them are gaseous giants.
***Comet Shoemaker Levy 9 broke into fragments before colliding Jupiter in a period of 7 days, impacting 21 times, creating a dark spot of 12,000 km (same as earth’s diameter). Jupiter has been rightly called solar system’s vacuum cleaner.
Note – Find more about Shoemaker Levy 9
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