Our Solar System: 6 Smart Answers to 6 Smart Questions!

August 08, 2012


Know more about your Solar System






Smart Question: The Sun takes 225-250 million years to orbit the centre of which galaxy?


Smart Answer: Milky Way.

The Sun orbits the Milky Way approximately 24,000-26,000 light years (Wikipedia) from the galactic centre. When 'standing' at the galactic North Pole, the Sun orbits clockwise, taking 225-250 million years to complete one rotation. Currently, the sun is within the inner rim of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way. Its Orion Arm is also referred to as the 'Local Arm', 'Local Spur' or the 'Orion Spur'.



Smart Question: Most people believe that looking directly at the Sun can damage a person's eyes, but there are several conditions that can make any sun damage more severe. Which is the safest and most preferred way to view the Sun?


Smart Answer: Observing the Sun using a filtered telescope.

UV light from the Sun can cause serious damage to the retina similar to sunburn. Depending on the severity of the burn, the damage can be either temporary or more permanent. Those with relative new lens implants and younger eyes are also more likely to damage the eyes when looking at the Sun as they 'let in' more UV light than older, or more previously 'damaged' eyes. The worst part is that the heat caused by sunburn on the retina kills cells almost immediately as the eye cannot get rid of the heat quickly enough.

Also looking at the Sun during a partial or full solar eclipse can damage the eyes as some of the photosphere region of the Sun is still visible and can cause permanent blind spots for viewers.



Smart Question: Well absolutely nothing remains unnamed for long in science. What was the official yet uninspiring designation of the new planet?


Smart Answer: 2003 UB313.

This planet was officially discovered on January 8th 2005, it had already been photographed in 2003 without identifying it as a planet. Hence; the "2003" in the name denoted the year it got identified. 2003 VB12 is an object beyond Pluto called 'Sedna', discovered only a year earlier.



Smart Question: Why did nobody discover this planet before?


Smart Answer: Nobody had previously looked in its direction.

The new planet was neither dark nor small, and with modern space technology it is impossible for any solar system object to hide behind anything for long. However, the main reason that no one discovered it before is that it was long way from the ecliptic plane (the plane in which the first eight planets are orbiting). Since most planets orbit in this plane, it is the most logical place to look there, and almost everyone did. As per the newer measurements in the month of April 2008 it came out that this plant is the brightest object in the solar system after Enceladus.



Smart Question: Give or take 1%, how long does it take the new planet to travel around its elliptical path around the sun once. In other words, how long is its year?


Smart Answer: 300 Mars years

New Planets one orbit takes about 560 Earth years, which is 298 Mars years or 910 Venus years. Pluto's orbit takes 248 Earth years so it must take longer than that. The new planet is further away so its orbit must take longer than Pluto's.



Smart QuestionHow long has the Sun been in existence?


Smart Answer: 4.5 billion years.