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Universe Today: How Big is the Solar System?

by Kenny Hoeschen

We mere Earthlings often have difficulty comprehending the vast size of our Solar System. We’ve seen the size of the solar system illustrated with fruit out to the orbit of Pluto. In this video, Universe Today publisher Fraser Cain provides additional insight into just how vast our Solar System is.

Pluto is 5.9 billion kilometers from the Sun. If you could drive your car at highway speeds, from the Sun all the way out to Pluto, it would take you more than 6,000 years to complete the trip. Yet our Solar System continues well beyond where the planets are. Beyond that is the Kuiper Belt which extends all the way out to 7.5 billion kilometers. And beyond that is the Termination Shock, where the Sun’s solar wind collides with the interstellar medium. (NASA’s Voyager 1 has already traveled over 18.5 billion kilometers.)

The true size of the Solar System is defined by the farthest reaches of its gravity. The furthest reachest is the Oort Cloud, which is up to 1.87 light years away. The Sun’s gravity dominates space out to about 2 light years.

(Thumbnail image courtesy of Pearson Education, Inc.)

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