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Is the sun suspended in the universe?

What exists above and below the solar system?

By Carlo PhilPublished 2 years ago 4 min read
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We often imagine the solar system as follows: the sun is at the center of the solar system without moving, while the eight planets and many other celestial bodies in the solar system are orbiting around the sun in an orderly manner, and the earth is also a member of it, which begs the question, is the sun suspended in the universe?

The answer is of course no. The sun is not as fixed in the universe as you might think, it has been leading many bodies in the solar system around the center of the galaxy, and its speed is up to about 230 km per second.

Interestingly, since the plane of the Sun's orbit has an angle of about 60 degrees to the ecliptic plane of the solar system (i.e., the plane of the Earth's orbit around the Sun), the actual motion of the solar system should look like this

As you can see, the sun is not suspended in the universe those images we often see of the sun fixed and immobile are simplifications to facilitate a more intuitive understanding of the solar system.

Okay, let's look at what is above and below the solar system, first, we need to define which direction is "above" and "below" the solar system, after all, the so-called "above" and "below" are "and "below" are defined by humans themselves. First look at a picture.

I believe that we can see at a glance, the planet is the Earth, but with a closer look, I believe we will feel that this picture is not normal, why? Because this picture "above" is from the southern hemisphere, and "below" is from the northern hemisphere. If you look at this picture upside down, we will feel very "normal".

This is actually our human habit, generally speaking, we default to "north and south", so we can also define that the "north" of the solar system is "above" and "south" is "above". "South" is "below". But the question is, which direction are the "north" and "south" of the solar system?

In fact, in astronomy, to avoid confusion between the definitions of "north" and "south", it is common to use a method called the "right-hand rule" to define the "north" and "south" of a celestial body. "North" and "South".

As shown above, if we use the four fingers of the right hand to indicate the direction of rotation of a celestial body, then the thumb of our right hand is pointing to the north pole of the celestial body.

In the solar system, the equatorial plane of the sun and the ecliptic plane of the solar system coincide, and the direction of the sun's rotation also coincides with the direction of rotation of the eight planets in the solar system, so we can also use the "right-hand rule" to define the "north" and "south" of the solar system. "South"

So the direction of the "North Yellow Pole" in the picture above can be considered as the "north" of the solar system, while the direction of the "North Celestial Pole" can be considered as the "north" of the Earth. "The reason for the difference is that the rotation axis of the Earth is not perpendicular to the ecliptic plane of the solar system.

According to our habit of "north up and south down", we can define the direction of "north ecliptic" as "above" the solar system, and its opposite direction as "below" the solar system. "below".

Astronomers usually do the same thing when depicting the distribution of objects in the vicinity of the solar system, and the image below shows the known stars within 12.5 light-years of the solar system.

As you can see, within this range, there are no stars above the solar system, which means that there is nothing in this area except for extremely thin interstellar matter and the occasional "passing" wandering object.

Below the solar system, there is a star system labeled "alpha Centaur".

This star system is actually "South Gate II" (also known as Alpha Centaur), which contains three stars, including "Alpha Centaur A" and "Alpha Centaur B "Both are yellow dwarfs about the size of the Sun, and they form a stable binary system, orbiting each other (closest distance is about 11.2 astronomical units, farthest distance is about 35.6 astronomical units).

At a distance of about 13,000 astronomical units from this binary system, there is also a faint red dwarf star orbiting them, which is the closest star to us, Proximal Centaur.

It is worth noting that Proximal has three planets, one of which is a rocky planet named Proximal b. Observations show that this planet has a radius of 1.07 (±0.35) times that of Earth, a mass of about 1.17 times that of Earth, and, more importantly, that More importantly, "Proximal b" is located in the habitable zone of its host star, which means that there is a possibility of life on this planet.

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About the Creator

Carlo Phil

Science and art are two sides of a coin

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