Question Video: Identifying the Closest Planet to the Sun | Nagwa Question Video: Identifying the Closest Planet to the Sun | Nagwa

Question Video: Identifying the Closest Planet to the Sun

Which planet in the solar system is closest to the Sun?

03:39

Video Transcript

Which planet in the solar system is closest to the Sun? (A) Venus, (B) Uranus, (C) Earth, (D) Neptune, or (E) Mercury.

To understand this question, we first need to understand what is meant by the term “solar system.” In the solar system is a massive sphere of hot gas. This is the Sun. There are objects that orbit, or move around, the Sun in roughly circular paths. There are eight planets that orbit the Sun. These are not drawn to scale as they are not at the correct distances and are not the correct sizes. We have only drawn them close together in a neat line to make it easier to label and identify them.

This is the solar system. This refers to the Sun and everything that orbits around it, including the eight planets. So, the planet in the solar system closest to the Sun is this planet here. Two of the options are outer planets: Uranus and Neptune. These outer planets are also referred to as gas giants.

Gas giants are planets that don’t have a surface. They are not solid and instead are made of different gases. There are four gas giants in total, including Saturn and Jupiter. These four constitute the outer planets of the solar system. The keyword here is “outer.” These are the four planets far away from the Sun. The planet furthest from the Sun is Neptune. So, option (D) is not the correct answer.

Next is Uranus. So, option (B) is also not the correct answer. Getting closer to the Sun, we have Saturn and Jupiter. This completes the outer planets. The planets that are closer to the Sun are referred to as the inner planets. There are four of them. The inner planet furthest from the Sun is Mars. Mars is a reddish planet with a thin atmosphere. Earth, the next planet, is our home. So, option (C), Earth, is not the correct answer.

We have established that there are eight planets in the solar system. So, we know that there are just two planets left to identify, giving us our four inner planets, which, along with the four outer planets, gives us a total of eight planets in the solar system. The two planets we have left are (A) Venus and (E) Mercury. The next planet is Venus. Hence, option (A) is not the correct answer. While Venus is not the closest planet to the Sun, it is the hottest. This is because it has a thick atmosphere that traps in the heat coming from the Sun.

The planet closest to the Sun is therefore Mercury. Mercury has no atmosphere, which is why while it is the closest planet to the Sun, it is not the hottest planet in the solar system, as there is no atmosphere to trap the heat coming from the Sun that there is on Venus. So, the correct answer is option (E), Mercury.

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