Where does our Earth derive its energy from? What are the other objects in the universe apart from Earth? What is the solar system? What is the center of the solar system? What a huge system of stars is called? If all these thoughts have intrigued you, we are here to answer all this and much more.
Our universe comprises many planetary systems where planets orbit a host star. Our planetary system is called the “Solar system” since our Sun is named Sol which comes from the Latin word “solis” so anything related to the Sun is called “Solar”.
Let us unravel the universe in this article which will go through the solar system for kids where you will see solar system images for kids for a better understanding of this topic. We will also do an easy solar system project and quench your curiosity by answering questions like how old is the solar system. With the list of planets in order for kids in this post, you will be able to remember them easily and be prepared to answer any question revolving around the solar system.
Solar System Definition for Kids
A huge system of stars is called a galaxy and our planetary system exists on the outer spiral arm of the galaxy called the Milky Way. The star in our solar system is the Sun and our solar system consists of the Sun and everything else that is bound by gravity to the Sun. There are many other thousands of planetary systems apart from ours that exist in the Milky Way and orbit around their own stars.
The solar system has eight planets (Earth, Venus, Jupiter, and others), dwarf planets (for instance, Pluto), millions of asteroids, dozens of moons, meteoroids, and comets revolving around the Sun. Can you imagine that even with millions of objects in our solar system, most of the solar system is empty space?
Our solar system covers a much larger distance and extends much farther than the eight planets orbiting the Sun. The Kuiper Belt is part of our solar system, lying beyond Neptune’s orbit.
There is an Oort cloud, a giant spherical shell, which lies along the fringes of the Kuiper belt and surrounds our solar system. No one has directly observed the Oort cloud. Still, scientists have predicted its existence based on some mathematical models and observations of comets that most likely originate in the Oort cloud.
More than 200 moons exist in the solar system, and Mercury and Venus are the only two planets that do not have a moon. Jupiter and Saturn have the maximum number of moons.
Sun and Formation of Solar System
Our solar system is 4.5 billion years old and was formed from a dense cloud of interstellar dust and gas.
The cloud is supposed to have collapsed when a nearby star (called Supernova) exploded and created shockwaves.
After collapsing, this dust cloud was reduced to a solar nebula (a swirling and spinning disk of material).
Due to gravity at the center, more and more material got pulled inside which increased the pressure at the core.
Eventually, the pressure increased to such an extent that the hydrogen atoms started combining and forming helium gas, thereby releasing a massive amount of energy,
With the release of energy, our Sun was born.
Matters which existed farther out on the disk were also clumping together, and the clumps kept smashing against each other to form larger objects.
Some of these clumps of matter grew large enough to have their own gravity, which shaped them into spheres, and they became planets, moons, or dwarf planets.
In some cases, planets could not be formed like the asteroid belt which is made up of fragments of the early solar system which was unable to come together to form a planet.
The smaller leftover pieces became comets, meteoroids, asteroids, and small irregular moons.
Here is the list of planets in order of their distance from the Sun (from closest to farthest)
Mercury - The planet closest to the Sun is Mercury and it is also the smallest planet. It does not have any rings or moons. An interesting fact about Mercury is your weight on Mercury would be just 38% of your weight on Earth. The sunlight on Mercury is seven times brighter than it appears on Earth. Though mercury is closest to the Sun, it is not the hottest planet in the solar system due to its dense atmosphere.
Venus - Venus is closest to Earth and the second in place to Mercury with respect to its distance from the Sun. Venus is also referred to as Earth’s twin as it is quite similar to Earth in terms of size and density. The atmosphere on the planet Venus is thick and toxic, full of carbon dioxide. The planet is always shrouded in thick clouds of sulfuric acid which is of yellowish color. Venus is the hottest of all the planets in the Solar system and its surface temperature is around 475 degrees Celsius.
Earth - The Earth is the only known planet to be inhabited by living organisms. Earth stands at the fifth position in size amongst all the planets in the solar system and is the only planet that has liquid water on the surface. The name of the planet “Earth” is more than 1000 years old. While all the planets are named after Greek Goddesses and Gods, Earth has its origin in Germanic language and it means “the ground.”
Mars - Mars is a dusty and cold desert world with a very thin atmosphere. Mars is a dynamic planet having seasons, canyons, polar ice caps, and extinct volcanoes. All this points to the fact that the planet Mars must have been very active in the past. Mars is the only planet where rovers were sent to explore this alien landscape. At present NASA has deployed two rovers (Perseverance, Curiosity), one helicopter (ingenuity), and one lander (Insight) for exploring the Mars surface.
Jupiter - Jupiter is a massive planet and stands at the number one position in terms of size in the solar system. It is more than double the size of all the planets combined. The swirls and stripes observed on planet Jupiter are windy and cold clouds of water and ammonia that are floating in an atmosphere full of hydrogen and helium. The iconic great red spot of Jupiter which is even bigger than the Earth is actually a massive storm that has been raging for hundreds of years. Currently, NASA has its Juno orbiter exploring this planet. Jupiter has 53 moons that are already named and 26 others are waiting for official names.
Saturn - Saturn is the second-largest planet in the Solar system. Saturn is decorated with thousands of beautiful rings which is a unique feature of this planet. These ringlets are made of chunks of rock and ice. Saturn is a giant ball composed of hydrogen and helium gases.
Uranus - Uranus was the first planet to be discovered in 1781 with the help of a telescope. Astronomer William Herschel was the one to discover Uranus though initially, he thought of the planet as a star or comet. Uranus has an extremely cold and windy atmosphere. It has 27 small moons and 13 faint rings and it rotates at almost 90 degrees with respect to the plane of its orbit.
Neptune - This planet is cold and dark with supersonic winds and is the most distant planet from the Sun in the solar system. Neptune is the only planet in the system that is not visible with naked eyes. Amongst the four gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune), Neptune is the smallest. The surface gravity on Neptune is close to that on Earth. Neptune has the strongest winds amongst all other planets.
The solar system model for kids is an infinite mystery so here are some fascinating facts about the solar system which will satisfy the curious and budding minds.
The Sun is also a star made up of gas and gives off light and heat.
The biggest planet in the solar system is Jupiter while the smallest planet is Mercury.
The Sun's distance from Earth is 93 million miles and light from the Sun reaches Earth in just eight minutes.
The Sun collected almost 99% of the solar system mass and is made up of helium and hydrogen gases.
Every planet in the solar system has distinct characteristics. For instance, Earth is mostly made up of rocks while Jupiter is made up of gas.
Earth is the only known planet to have living beings in it.
Our Earth is always spinning around its axis (rotational axis) and revolving around the Sun in a loop (Earth’s orbit). Earth takes twenty-four hours to rotate on its axis (this causes day and night for us) and 365 days to complete a full revolution around the Sun (this causes seasonal changes on Earth).
The ring around Saturn is made up entirely of water ice particles.
Mars is also at times referred to as the “Red Planet'' as it is made up of red-colored rocks. Mars is the closest planet to Earth and is slightly smaller than Earth.
Thus, as the amount of data on the solar system, moons, comets, planets, and asteroids has expanded, the issues faced by astronomers in coming up with theories of the origins of the solar system have been solved with proven records. In fact, this article has successfully covered all the vital information that can help you understand the solar system in depth.