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What is a Solar System 101: How is it Caused?

The cosmos, as vast as it is, invites questions that indulge our curiosity, such as “What is a Solar System 101?” The purpose of this article is to decipher the building blocks of space and introduce you to the captivating realm of our own star system.

What is a Solar System?

At its core, a solar system is an astronomical entity composed of a star, or multiple stars, around which assorted entities like planets, asteroids, meteoroids, and comets orbit. The intriguing question is, “How is such an assembly formed?”

The Birth-Cry of a Solar System

A solar system’s genesis is a spectacle of cosmic proportions, literally! The process begins within the tempestuous heart of a nebula, a vast cloud made up of dust, hydrogen, helium, and traces of heavier elements.

  • Contraction: The gases and dust within the nebula begin to contract due to gravitational forces. This sparks the birth of a gravitational center known as a protostar.
  • Accretion: As the contraction continues, the protostar gains mass, causing increased gravitational attraction. Surrounding particles begin to accumulate, a process known as accretion.
  • Nuclear Fusion: When the protostar gains enough mass, the pressures and temperatures at its core trigger nuclear fusion. This marks the formation of a star.
  • Orbital Bodies: After the star comes the formation of planets. Leftover dust and debris orbiting the star begin to collide and coalesce, creating planetesimals. These then form protoplanets, which eventually become planets.

“Don’t these processes take ages?” Indeed, they do. The formation of a solar system can take a few million to a billion years.

Trivia: Solar System Facts

  • Our solar system consists of the sun, 8 recognized planets, dwarf planets like Pluto, asteroids, comets, meteors, and moons.
  • Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, has a magnetic field stronger than the sun’s.
  • The Oort Cloud, a distant spherical shell of icy objects, is considered the boundary of our solar system.
  • The Voyager spacecraft, launched in the 1970s, are the only man-made objects to have left our solar system.
  • “What’s beyond our solar system?” The answer is – the rest of the Milky Way galaxy and then, other galaxies in the broad universe.

In essence, the solar system serves as an introduction to the celestial wonders that inhabit our cosmos. With new discoveries frequently adding chapters to its tale, the solar system continues to epitomize the prodigious depth of the universe.

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