The Solar System consists of the Sun and the other celestial objects gravitationally bound to it: the eight planets, their moons, five currently identified dwarf planets and their seven known moons, and billions of small bodies. This last category includes asteroids, Kuiper belt objects, comets, meteoroids and interplanetary dust. In broad terms, the charted regions of the Solar System consist of the Sun, four terrestrial inner planets, an asteroid belt composed of small rocky bodies, four gas giant outer planets, and a second belt, called the Kuiper belt, composed of icy objects. Beyond the Kuiper belt lies the scattered disc, the heliopause, and ultimately the hypothetical Oort cloud. In order of their distances from the Sun, the planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Six of the eight planets are in turn orbited by natural satellites, usually termed "moons" after Earth's Moon, and each of the outer planets is encircled by planetary rings of dust and other particles. All the planets except Earth are named after gods and goddesses from Greco-Roman mythology. The five dwarf planets are Pluto, Makemake, and Haumea, the three largest known Kuiper belt objects; Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt; and Eris, the largest known object in the scattered disc.
The Oort cloud
is a spherical cloud of comets
believed to lie roughly 50,000 AU
, or nearly a light-year
, from the Sun
; this distance places the cloud at nearly a quarter of the distance to Proxima Centauri
, the nearest star
to the Sun. The Kuiper belt
and scattered disc
, the other two known reservoirs of trans-Neptunian objects
, are less than one thousandth the Oort cloud's distance. The outer extent of the Oort cloud defines the boundary of our Solar System
The Oort cloud is thought to comprise two separate regions: a spherical outer Oort cloud and a disc-shaped inner Oort cloud, or Hills cloud. Objects in the Oort cloud are largely composed of ices such as water, ammonia and methane. Astronomers believe that the matter comprising the Oort cloud formed closer to the Sun, and was scattered far out into space by the gravitational effects of the giant planets early in the Solar System's evolution. While no confirmed direct observations have been made, the Oort cloud is likely the source of comets. The only known trans-Neptunian objects, 90377 Sedna and 2000 CR105, are considered possible members of the inner Oort cloud.
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and by far the largest within the solar system. It is 318 times more massive than Earth, with a diameter 11 times that of Earth, and with a volume 1300 times that of Earth. Its best known feature is the Great Red Spot, a storm larger than Earth, which was first observed by Galileo four centuries ago. This picture, taken by the Cassini orbiter was one of 26 thousand images taken of Jupiter during the course of its flyby and is the most detailed global color portrait of the planet ever produced.