The Solar System Portal

The Sun and planets of the Solar System (distances not to scale)

The Solar System is the gravitationally bound system of the Sun and the objects that orbit it. The largest of these objects are the eight planets, which in order from the Sun are four terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars); two gas giants (Jupiter and Saturn); and two ice giants (Uranus and Neptune). The Solar System developed 4.6 billion years ago when a dense region of a molecular cloud collapsed, forming the Sun and a protoplanetary disc.

All four terrestrial planets belong to the inner Solar System and have solid surfaces. Inversely, all four giant planets belong to the outer Solar System and do not have a definite surface, as they are mainly composed of gases and liquids. 99.86% of the Solar System's mass is in the Sun and nearly 90% of the remaining mass are in Jupiter and Saturn. There is a strong consensus among astronomers that the Solar System also has eight dwarf planets, which consist of one asteroid-belt object – Ceres; four Kuiper-belt objects – Pluto, Haumea, Quaoar, and Makemake; and three scattered-disc objects – Gonggong, Eris, and Sedna.

There are a vast number of smaller objects orbiting the Sun, called small Solar System bodies. This category includes asteroids, comets, centaurs, meteoroids and interplanetary dust clouds. Many of these objects are in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter (1.5–4.5 AU), and the Kuiper belt just outside Neptune's orbit (30–50 AU). Six of the major planets, the six largest possible dwarf planets, and many of the smaller bodies are orbited by natural satellites, commonly called "moons" after Earth's Moon. Two natural satellites, Jupiter's moon Ganymede and Saturn's moon Titan, are larger than Mercury, the smallest terrestrial planet, though they are less massive.

The Solar System is constantly flooded by the Sun's charged particles, the Solar wind, forming the heliosphere. Pushed against by the surrounding interstellar medium of the Local Cloud, the Solar wind starts slowing at 75 to 90 AU (the termination shock), before being halted, resulting in the heliopause, the boundary of the Solar System to interstellar space. The outermost region of the Solar System is the Oort cloud, the source for long-period comets, extending from 2,000 AU to the edge of the Solar System's sphere of gravitational influence at up to 200,000 AU (3.2 ly). The closest star to the Solar System, Proxima Centauri, is 4.25 ly away. The Solar System orbits the Galactic Center of the Milky Way galaxy, as part of its Orion Spur, at a distance of 26,000 ly. (Full article...)

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Io, with two plumes erupting from its surface.
Io, with two plumes erupting from its surface.
Volcanism on Io, a moon of Jupiter, produces lava flows, volcanic pits, and plumes of sulfur and sulfur dioxide hundreds of kilometres high. This volcanic activity was discovered in 1979 by Voyager 1 imaging scientists. Observations of Io by passing spacecraft and Earth-based astronomers have revealed more than 150 active volcanoes. Io's volcanism makes the satellite one of only four known volcanically active worlds in the solar system. First predicted shortly before the Voyager 1 flyby, the heat source for Io's volcanism comes from tidal heating produced by Io's forced orbital eccentricity. Io's volcanism has led to the formation of hundreds of volcanic centres and extensive lava formations, making the moon the most volcanically active body in the solar system. Three different types of volcanic eruptions have been identified, differing in duration, intensity, lava effusion rate, and whether the eruption occurs within a volcanic pit. Lava flows on Io, tens or hundreds of kilometres long, have primarily basaltic composition, similar to lavas seen on Earth at shield volcanoes such as Kīlauea in Hawaii. As a result of the presence of significant quantities of sulfurous materials in Io's crust and on its surface, during some eruptions, sulfur, sulfur dioxide gas, and pyroclastic material are blown up to 500 kilometres (310 mi) into space, producing large, umbrella-shaped volcanic plumes. (Full article...)

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The SunMercuryVenusThe MoonEarthMarsPhobos and DeimosCeresThe main asteroid beltJupiterMoons of JupiterSaturnMoons of SaturnUranusMoons of UranusNeptuneMoons of NeptunePlutoMoons of PlutoHaumeaMoons of HaumeaMakemakeThe Kuiper BeltErisDysnomiaThe Scattered DiscThe Hills CloudThe Oort Cloud

Solar System: Planets (Definition · Planetary habitability · Terrestrial planets · Gas giants · Rings· Dwarf planets (Plutoid· Colonization · Discovery timelineˑ Exploration · Moons · Planetariums

Sun: Sunspot · Solar wind · Solar flare · Solar eclipse
Mercury: Geology · Exploration (Mariner 10 · MESSENGER · BepiColombo· Transit
Venus: Geology · Atmosphere · Exploration (Venera · Mariner program 2/5/10 · Pioneer · Vega 1/2ˑ Magellan · Venus Express· Transit
Earth: History · Geology · Geography · Atmosphere · Rotation
Moon: Geology · Selenography · Atmosphere · Exploration (Luna · Apollo 8/11· Orbit · Lunar eclipse
Mars: Moons (Phobos · Deimos) · Geology · Geography · Atmosphere · Exploration (Mariner · Mars · Viking 1/2 · Pathfinder · MER)
Ceres: Exploration (Dawn)
Jupiter: Moons (Amalthea, Io · Europa · Ganymede · Callisto) · Rings · Atmosphere · Magnetosphere · Exploration (Pioneer 10/11 · Voyager 1/2 · Ulysses · Cassini · Galileo · New Horizons)
Saturn: Moons (Mimas · Enceladus · Tethys · Dione · Rhea · Titan · Iapetus) · Rings · Exploration (Pioneer 11 · Voyager 1/2 · CassiniHuygens)
Uranus: Moons (Miranda · Ariel · Umbriel · Titania · Oberon) · Rings · Exploration (Voyager 2)
Neptune: Moons (Triton) · Rings · Exploration (Voyager 2)
Planets beyond Neptune
Pluto: Moons (Charon, Nix, Hydra, Kerberos, Styx) · Exploration (New Horizons)
Haumea: Moons (Hi'iaka, Namaka)
Eris: Dysnomia
Small bodies: Meteoroids · Asteroids (Asteroid belt· Centaurs · TNOs (Kuiper belt · Scattered disc · Oort cloud· Comets (Hale–Bopp · Halley's · Hyakutake · Shoemaker–Levy 9)
Formation and evolution of the Solar System: History of Solar System formation and evolution hypotheses · Nebular hypothesis
See also: Featured content · Featured topic · Good articles · List of objects

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The planet Saturn, see here eclipsing the sun
The planet Saturn, see here eclipsing the sun

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