Essay on universe and solar system
Our solar system is one of over 500 known solar systems in the entire Milky Way galaxy. The solar system came into being about 4.5 billion years ago, when a cloud of interstellar gas and dust collapsed, resulting in a solar nebula, a swirling disc of material that collided to form the solar system.
The solar system is located in the Milky Way's Orion star cluster. Only 15% of stars in the galaxy host planetary systems, and one of those stars is our own sun. Revolving around the sun are eight planets.
The planets are divided into two categories, based on their composition.
Terrestrial planets including Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars, are primarily made of rocky material. Their surfaces are solid, they don't have ring systems, they have very few or no moons, and they are relatively small.
The smallest and closest to the sun is Mercury, which has the shortest orbit in the solar system at about three Earth months. Venus is the hottest planet, with temperatures of up to 867 degrees Fahrenheit, due to an atmosphere of carbon dioxide and extensive lava flows.
Next to this world of fire is a world of water, Earth. The water systems on this planet help create the only known environment in the universe capable of sustaining life.
The last of the terrestrial planets, Mars, might have also supported life about 3.7 billion years ago, when the planet had a watery surface, and moist atmosphere. Beyond the four Terrestrial planets of the inner solar system lie the Jovian planets of the outer solar system.
Jovian planets include gas giants Jupiter and Saturn and ice giants Uranus and Neptune. The gas giants are predominantly made of helium and hydrogen, and the ice giants also contain rock, ice, and a liquid mixture of water, methane, and ammonia.
All four Jovian planets have multiple moons, sport ring systems, have no solid surface, and are immense. The largest Jovian is also the largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter. Nearby is Saturn, the solar system's second largest planet. Its signature rings are wide enough to fit between Earth and the moon, but are barely a kilometer thick.
Past Saturn are the ice giants, Uranus and Neptune. The slightly bigger of these ice giants, Uranus, is famous for rotating on its side. Next to Uranus is Neptune, the outermost planet in the solar system, and also one of the coldest.
Orbiting the Terrestrial planets is the asteroid belt, a flat disc of rocky objects, full of remnants from the solar system's formation. From microscopic dust particles, to the largest known object, the dwarf planet, Ceres.
Another disc of space debris lies much further out, and orbits the Jovian planets, the icy Kuiper Belt. Apart from asteroids, the Kuiper Belt is also home to dwarf planets, such as Pluto, and is the birthplace of many comets.
Beyond the Kuiper Belt is the Oort Cloud, a vast, spherical collection of icy debris. It is considered the edge of the solar system since that is where the gravitational and physical influences of the sun end. Our solar system's particular configuration of planets and other celestial objects, all revolving around a life-giving star, make it a special place to call home.
Origin of our solar system
The universe is everything. From the tiniest particles, to the largest galaxies, to the very existence of space, time, and life. But how did it all begin?
The origin of the universe is the origin of everything. Multiple scientific theories plus creation myths from around the world have tried to explain its mysterious genesis. However, the most widely accepted explanation is the Big Bang theory.
The Big Bang theory states that the universe began as a hot and infinitely dense point. Only a few millimeters wide, it was similar to a supercharged black hole.
About 13.7 billion years ago this tiny singularity violently exploded. And it is from this explosion, this bang, that all matter, energy, space, and time were created.
What happened next were two major stages of the universe's evolution. Called the radiation and matter eras, they're defined by key events that helped shape the universe.
First came the radiation era, named for the dominance of radiation right after the Big Bang. This era is made of smaller stages call epochs that occurred within the universe's first tens of thousands of years.
The earliest is the Planck epoch. No matter existed in the universe at this time, only energy and the ancestor to the four forces of nature, the superforce. At the end of this stage, however, a key event occurred in which gravity split away from the superforce.
Next came the grand unification epoch, named for the three remaining unified forces of nature. This epoch ended when one of those forces, called strong, or strong nuclear, broke away.
Then the inflationary epoch began during which the universe rapidly expanded. Almost instantly it grew from the size of an atom to the size of a grapefruit. The universe at this time was piping hot and it churned with electrons, quarks, and other particles.
Then came the electroweak epoch, when the last two forces, electromagnetic and weak, finally split off. During the next stage, the quark epoch, all of the universe's ingredients were present, however, the universe was still too hot and dense for subatomic particles to form.
Then, in the hadron epoch, the universe cooled down enough for quarks to bind together and form protons and neutrons. In the lepton and nuclear epics, the radiation era's last two stages, the protons and neutrons underwent a significant change. They fused and created nuclei. And in doing so, they created the first chemical element in the universe, helium.
The universe's new ability to form elements, the building blocks of matter, queued the matter era. Much as the name suggests, the matter era's defined by the presence and predominance of matter in the universe.
It features three epochs that span billions of years. The vast majority of the universe's life span, and includes the present day. The first was the atomic epoch. In this stage, the universe's temperature cooled down enough for electrons to attach to nuclei for the first time.
Called recombination, this process helped create the universe's second element, hydrogen. This hydrogen, along with helium atoms, dotted the universe with atomic clouds. Within the clouds, small pockets of gas may have had enough gravity to cause atoms to collect.
These clusters of atoms, formed during the galactic epoch, became the seedlings of galaxies. Nestled inside those galaxies, stars began to form. And in doing so, they queued the latest and current stage of the universe's development, the stellar epoch.
The formation of stars then caused a tremendous ripple effect and helped shape the universe as we know it. Heat within the stars caused the conversion of helium and hydrogen into almost all the remaining elements in the universe.
In turn, those elements became the building blocks for planets, moons, life, everything we see today.
This ecosystem of everything was only possible because of the many stages in the universe's development.
While countless questions about the origins of our univers e remain, it's only a matter of time for some long-sought answers to emerge.
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