What makes a Solar System?
Every school child knows that our Solar System is made up of the Sun and nine planets (sorry, eight planets and whatever Pluto is now that it is no longer a planet). But what makes this a Solar System? Is it because the Sun has numerous objects in orbit around it; or perhaps because the Sun gives off heat? When our Sun dies will this cease to be a Solar System?
The most obvious answer to that last question is yes because the Sun is supposed to go Super Nova and engulf the planets. But what happens if a sun dies without going Super Nova? Is it possible for a sun to simply stop giving off heat? Can an object be a sun even if it never gave off heat?
Let’s look at some statistics. Our Sun has a diameter of 1,390,000km, a mass of 1.989e30kg, and a composition of 75% hydrogen and 25% helium. The Suns temperature at the surface is 5,800C, with a core temperature of 15,600,000C. So, the Sun is hot, and has objects in orbit around it, which by popular opinion makes this a Solar System.
Now, consider if you will the “planet” Jupiter. Jupiter has a diameter of 143,844km, a mass of 1.898×10(exp27) kg, and a composition of 90% hydrogen and 10% helium. In simple terms Jupiter is a gas giant. What makes Jupiter different from the Sun is the temperature. Jupiter’s temperature is -123C. Not much opportunity there to give off heat. However, 10,000 kilometers below the surface of Jupiter the hydrogen reaches a pressure of 1,000,000 bar and reaches a temperature of 6,000 k. This causes the hydrogen atoms to break down into ionized protons and electrons much like what is found at the core of the Sun.
Let us now enter into the realm of the hypothetical, a game of “what if”. What if Jupiter is more than a gas giant? What if Jupiter is in reality a dead star? True, when stars die they become Super Nova’s, or Red Dwarfs, or whatever. But then again, most stars are light-years apart. What if, due to Jupiter’s close proximity to the Sun; a few million miles is close proximity when compared to a few light-years; something happened to prevent Jupiter from going Nova? Could this close proximity have caused some sort of chemical reaction causing Jupiter to simply lose all external heat?
Comparing Jupiter to the Sun, Jupiter, in all other regards, qualifies as a sun, (with the exception that Jupiter does not give off its own light.) It is certainly big enough to be a star. It has almost the same make up as our own Sun. It has objects in orbit around it (over 50 at last count). Is it possible that at some point in the very distant past Jupiter did give off its own light?
Could what we consider our Solar System’s 5th planet actually be the remains of a dead star? Could the objects orbiting Jupiter actually be considered planets? What if what we consider a planet orbited by numerous moons is, in reality, the remnants of a Solar System within a Solar System? Just a thought, make of it what you will.