• Luísa Rodarte

Curiosities About The Solar System

First of all, let's talk about what a solar system is. A solar system is a sun together with the group of celestial bodies that are held by its attraction and revolve around it.

Our Solar System consists of a set of eight planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) and a host of other celestial bodies orbiting around the Sun.

The first curiosity, that probably everyone knows about it, is that until a while ago another planet was also part of our solar system, which was known as Pluto.

In 2006, a change in the International Astronomical Union's definition of what a planet is led Pluto to change in category to a dwarf planet, since it only met two of the criteria to be classified as a planet, but not the third one, that of having a free orbit.

The rules to being considered a planet are three: the first is that the body is in orbit around a star, the second is that it has its own gravity (this is the factor responsible for the planet having a round shape), and the third rule, the one that did not apply to Pluto, is for it to have a free orbit, meaning that the path it makes cannot be influenced or obstructed by any other planet. For not obeying this rule, Pluto became considered a dwarf planet, since the rules for being in this category are to orbit around a star (the Sun, in this case), to have a spherical shape, and to be predominant among the other stars in its orbit. As all of this applies to Pluto, it was classified as such.

Another curiosity is that in our solar system, the planet Earth is the only habitable planet, because of the existence of a habitable zone in the Solar System. This zone is a region of space around a the Sun where the intensity of the radiation emitted by it allows the existence of liquid water on the surface of a planet or natural satellite that is there, without the oceans boiling because the star is too close, and without the oceans freezing because the star is too far away. Our planet is located right in the center of this zone, and that's why it is so far the only habitable planet in our solar system.

The next curiosity is that scientists are looking for a way to turn Mars into a habitable planet, because it is located very close to this habitable zone, and considering the way the planet Earth is being destroyed, if we don't manage to colonize Mars, the planet will run out of resources, and probably threaten the existence of all the population with it.

And the last curiosity is that in 2021, scientists discovered an exoplanet located 90 light-years from the Earth with an intriguing atmosphere that may contain clouds of water. Exoplanets are planets located outside of the Solar System. This exoplanet, named TOI-1231 b, completes one orbit around its star every 24 Earth days. This planet may have some kind of life, or may be inhabited, because it has many similarities to planet Earth, like temperature. This is a very good thing, since most planets in our Solar System are not habitable because of temperature, they are either too hot for being too close to the Sun or too cold for being too far away from the Sun. Since the Earth has the perfect distance (not too close, not too far), and since we already know that planet Earth is habitable, then there would be a chance that life could really exist on this newly discovered planet.

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