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Recent Podcast
X-ray Vision Reveals the Insides of Stars
X-ray Vision Reveals the Insides of Stars
Each of these four fabulous photographs shows the remains of an exploded star - called a supernova remnant. (2014-07-23)


Video Podcasts: The Incredible Two-Inch Universe

Step 3: The Realm of Our Solar System and Nearby Stars

View/Listen
Now let's shrink the entire Solar System down to 2 inches in diameter :

Planet sizes and orbits on 2-inch image are NOT to scale!
  • Size of Sun - Microscopic at this scale, a shining speck at the center of the image
  • Sun-Earth Distance - 1/2 mm - Earth orbits very close to the center of the Solar System
  • Pluto's Orbit - Around the edge of the 2-inch Solar System image
  • Nearest Star to Sun - 2 soccer fields away
  • Nearby Star Discovered to Have Orbiting Planets - 5 soccer fields away. Two planets have been discovered around the star Epsilon Eridani, which is visible from the southern hemisphere.
  • Our Milky Way Galaxy - Size of North America. At this scale, our 2-inch Solar System is part of a continent-sized system of 200 billion shining speck stars. These stars, spread 30 miles (50 km) high, are generally separated from each other by more than 2 soccer fields.
  • Light Travel Time - It takes about 10 hours for a beam of light to cross the Solar System and years for light to travel between stars.
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