This story now
IN OMG! ON 18 Nov, 2015
The universe is incredible, even if we haven't fully comprehended it yet.
Likewise, the planet earth where we live, the solar system which we belong, and the galaxy we reside in are all spectacular in their own rights. What needs to address, however, are some misconceptions about space. Because of modern technology, we can now properly reevaluate the "classic" or "traditional" way of seeing the solar system and the various space objects floating around.
Space truly is awesome!
The old posters of the solar system make it look like Earth is just a bit smaller than the other planets, but that's not true. In fact, when put into scale, the Earth is just a mere pixel next to the dot that is Neptune, which is relatively smaller than the bigger dot that is Jupiter. And of course, even the largest planets pale in comparison to the sun.
We like to view the "tail" of a comet as something that indicates the direction of comets, but actually, they are affected by the sun. The plasma tail is created when solar winds ionize the gases, turning the tail directly away from the Sun. Yes, the dust tail often seems to point at the comet's path, but it is also affected by the sun's radiation pressure that moves it away from the sun.
Pluto has been widely regarded as a cold, icy, blue dwarf planet. But ever since NASA's New Horizons probe reached past Pluto back in July 2015, it has been finally revealed that Pluto, with its heart-shaped form, is actually more red, like Mars, and far from being blue. The color is actually caused by the sun and cosmic rays that affect the methane and atmosphere of Pluto.
Yes, Jupiter's day only lasts a mere 9.9 Earth hours. And that still makes sense. Likewise, a day at Venus is actually 243 Earth days. While that is in itself astonishing, it becomes confusing when you realize that a full year for Venus is only 224.7 Earth days, much shorter than an actual day.
While the moon is basically considered as a space object orbiting a planet, looking at the scale reveals that even the moons of Jupiter and Titan could compete against planets such as Mars and Mercury when it comes to sheer size. Moreover, not every moon actually orbits a planet, as observed from Dactyl, a small celestial object that orbits the Ida asteroid.
Compared to the whole universe or simply the Andromeda Galaxy, our solar system might seem insignificant. But once you realize just how massive the sun and the planets are, you'll appreciate even Pluto, which is 39.5 astronomical units, or 5.9 billion kilometers, away from the sun. But more than that, the edge of the solar system is actually not Pluto, but rather, the outer rim of the sun's heliosphere. The heliopause is the supposed boundary wherein the solar wind made by the Sun is impeded by the interstellar wind of other stars. Our Sun's heliosphere is 121 astronomical units away from the sun. That makes it at least three times farther than Pluto.
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