TECH

Stunning Animation Shows Just How Large Our Solar System Really Is

Crikey.

22/03/2017 12:09 GMT

Hearing that our solar system is pretty big probably doesn’t come as groundbreaking news.

But now an animation has illustrated just exactly how expansive that space is, and it is pretty mind-blowing.

The visual simulation, posted to Reddit by user Nobillitie, shows the orbits of all eight planets in our Solar System – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune - as well as thousands of dwarf planets beyond.

These smaller planets, which now famously includes Pluto, are located in a region beyond the icy planet known as the Kuiper Belt.

There are so many that they may actually outnumber our own planets by as many as hundred or thousand to one. In fact it is estimated that they are closer to over 10,000 dwarf planets past Neptune. 

Each ring seen on the animation is an orbital trajectory, with the first eight being our planets, and the subsequent ones being all dwarf planets. 

These planets were taken from the official ‘dwarf planet record’ compiled by Mike Brown, Professor of Planetary Astronomy at The California Institute of Technology.

Brown told Business Insider: “It’s a nice illustration of what is out there...the striking difference between the orderly giant planets and the randomness of the dwarf planets is quite apparent.”

The animation was created with the simulator Universe Sandbox, according to the software’s creator and director, Dan Dixon. 

Although Pluto is currently considered a dwarf planet, back in February, NASA announced that they want Pluto to regain full planet status after eleven years in exile. 

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) currently requires an object to be orbiting the Sun to be classified as a planet. But the space agency wants the IAU to drop that requirement, insisting that a world’s physical properties are more important than their interactions with stars.