You've Been Lied to: Jupiter Doesn't Orbit the Sun

Jupiter is so big that it doesn’t orbit the sun

Well turns out, Jupiter is more badass than originally thought...

The Juno probe recently passed the giant, gassy planet taking some photos along the way. The probe set out on its journey in 2011, arriving in 2016. Using the planet’s magnetic waves, radio waves and gravitational field the probe's mission was to study the planet’s mysterious interior.

It’s the closest any man-made craft has been to Jupiter. Tasked with taking the first photos of the planets Polar Regions and huge auroras, the photos reveal just how large the gas planet is.

It's huge. So huge that it actually doesn’t orbit the sun.

We are in an orbit nobody has ever been in before, and these images give us a whole new perspective on this gas-giant world, says planetary scientist Scott Bolton.

When smaller objects orbit bigger objects, the smaller object doesn’t travel around the larger in a perfect circle- both objects orbit a meshed centre of gravity. In a way, they meet in the middle. This isn’t the case with Jupiter.

Jupiter is about 2.5 times the mass of all other planets in our solar system combined, which means its heavy enough that the centre of gravity between the Sun and Jupiter isn’t actually inside the sun but just above the sun’s surface.

Essentially, because the gas giant is so hefty its centre of mass with the Sun lies 1.07 solar radii from the middle of the sun- 7% of a sun radius over the surface of the sun.

This GIF from NASA explains the effect:

 

 

***The sizes are not to scale.

Jupiter is estimated to be around 143,000 kilometres wide. Its so big that it could eat all other planets in our solar system. It can fit more than 1,300 earths inside it. 

Header: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA - First picture of Jupiter

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