The Planet Uranus – Planets In Our Solar System

Planet Uranus

The Planet Uranus - Planets In Our Solar SystemThe Planet Uranus is the seventh planet from the sun. It has the distinction of being the only planet with an equator that is at a right angle from its orbit. Effectively, the planet orbits sideways. Astronomers believe that is due to Uranus colliding with another object long ago. The tilt is responsible for extreme seasons. Sometimes these seasons last for more than 20 years and the sun beating down on one pole for close to 84 Earth years.

  • Orbit: 84 Earth years
  • Diameter: 31, 763 miles (51, 120 km)
  • Day: 18 Earth hours

The planet Uranus was formally discovered in 1781 by William Herschel. Though it was observed long ago, it was long mistaken to be a star as a result of its slow orbit and dimness. The dimness associated with the planet is due to the methane present in its atmosphere. The planet has many moons and also faint rings.

Uranus is named after the Greek god of the sky, Ouranos and is the only planet to be named after a Greek god. Before this particular name was decided upon, several names were proposed such as Hypercronius (“above Saturn”), Minerva, Herschel and even Georgium Sidus. The name for this planet was later finalised by the German astronomer, Johann Bode.

Magnetic Poles

The magnetic poles of planets are typically aligned with their axis of rotation. Uranus exhibits an exception with its magnetic field being tipped by almost 60 degrees from its axis of rotation. Furthermore, it has been found that the strength of the magnetic field is more at the surface near the northern hemisphere than that at the southern hemisphere.

The composition of the planet Uranus is estimated as 25% rock, 5-15% helium and hydrogen and 60-70% ice. Uranus’ core is made of iron and magnesium silicate and its mantle is made of water, methane and ammonia ices. Uranus has seasons that last 21 years on an average. However, the extreme tilt of its axis gives rise to unusual weather. When sunlight reaches some areas for the first time after some years, this heats the atmosphere and causes huge storms. On the other hand, when it was discovered in 1986 by Voyager 2, it had only 10 clouds and was dubbed ‘the most boring planet’.

Uranus possesses two sets of rings. The inner set is comprised of narrow and dark rings while the other set has two distant rings that are coloured red and blue. As of now, as much as 27 rings have been seen around Uranus.

Planets In Our Solar System

Planets In Our Solar System

Planets In Our Solar System - (Planets In Our Solar System)Planets in Our Solar System, A solar system is essentially a star and the objects that orbit around it. Our solar system consists of the Sun in the centre around which eight planets, a dwarf planet and some asteroids revolve. Our solar system is in an outward portion of the Milky Way galaxy. Let’s have a look at the planets in our solar system.

The planets in our solar system were discovered after astronomers followed moving points of light among the stars. Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn were discovered in a similar manner, while Neptune, Uranus, Pluto, the Asteroid Belt and the moons of many planets were observed only after the telescope was invented. The discovery of the dwarf planet Eris led to the discovery of other dwarf planets. Several space probes were sent out in space to further explore the solar system and are being continued today.

Solar System theorised

The solar system is theorised to have originated from a giant rotating cloud of dust and gas known as the solar nebula. This nebula collapsed due to its gravity. It spun faster and was flattened to a disc. Most of the material from this nebula moved towards the centre and formed the sun. Other particles collided and stuck together to form planetesimals (objects that are the size of asteroids). Some of these planetesimals combined to form comets, asteroids, moons and planets. The solar winds were very powerful and swept away lighter elements such as helium and hydrogen from the inner planets. The solar winds were much weaker in the outer planets and hence, they are predominantly made of helium and hydrogen.

Planets in our Solar System

In the order of their distance from the Sun, the planets in our solar system are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. In the year 2006, The International Astronomical Union classified Pluto as a dwarf planet and it is effective, not included in this list. Apart from the planets, it also includes meteorites, comets, asteroids, a disc-shaped Kuiper Belt, a spherical Ort Cloud and a heliopause that is shaped like a teardrop. The solar system is estimated to stretch for a distance of 9 billion miles.

Planet Nine

Evidence for a new planet nicknamed “Planet x / Planet 9“was unveiled in 2016 bringing the number of planets in the solar system back to nine. It is estimated to have a mass that is 5,000 times that of Pluto and 10 times that of Earth. This planet x (video) is believed to exist between Neptune and Pluto. In any case, Pluto is the farthest object in our solar system orbiting in an elliptical and completely tilted axis.

The sun lies at the centre of our solar system and is by far, the largest object in it. It contains around 99.8% of the mass in the entire solar system. It provides light and heat without which life on Earth would stop. Most of the other objects in the solar system orbit in oval-shaped paths, with the sun slightly off centre from their paths.

Kinds of Planets

The planets in our solar system are of two kinds. The first kind is Terrestrial planets or planter whose surfaces are rocky. This includes Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. The other four are called Jovian planters because they are huge in comparison to the terrestrial planets and more importantly, are gaseous in nature. Jupiter and Saturn are basically called gas planets while Uranus and Neptune have more ice. A common feature is that all four planets contain helium and hydrogen.

Pluto also has solid rocky surfaces. But since it has been classified as a dwarf planet, it falls out of this list. The IAU defines a planet that can circle the sun without being the satellite of any other object while being large enough so that it can be rounded (by its own gravity) and must ‘clear the neighbourhood’ of other orbiting objects. The problem with Pluto is its small size and its odd orbit when compared with the other planets in our solar system. Most importantly, Pluto’s orbit shares space with other object belonging to the Kuiper Belt that lies beyond Neptune. Other dwarf planets are Eris, Makemake, Sedna and Haumea from the Kuiper Belt and Ceres from the Asteroid Belt that lies between Jupiter and Mars.

Comets

Comets are comprised of primarily rock and ice. They follow very long orbits that bring them closer to the sun at certain points. Some short-period comets are thought to originate from the Kuiper belt and complete their orbits within 200 years. Long period comets take more than 200 years to complete their orbits and they are believed to have originated from the Oort Cloud. When comets come very close to the sun, some of the ice in their central nucleus evaporates into gas which is carried outward, giving it a characteristic ‘tail’.

The Kuiper belt is long suspected to exist beyond Neptune and is estimated to house more than a trillion comets and some hundreds of thousands of icy bodies.  Beyond this lie the Oort Cloud, Heliosphere and Heliopause.