A planet is a celestial body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals.The term planet is ancient, with ties to history, science,...
in the Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...
In physics, an orbit is the gravitationally curved path of an object around a point in space, for example the orbit of a planet around the center of a star system, such as the Solar System...
ing the Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...
once every 87.969 Earth days. The orbit of Mercury has the highest eccentricity
The orbital eccentricity of an astronomical body is the amount by which its orbit deviates from a perfect circle, where 0 is perfectly circular, and 1.0 is a parabola, and no longer a closed orbit...
of all the Solar System planets, and it has the smallest axial tilt
In astronomy, axial tilt is the angle between an object's rotational axis, and a line perpendicular to its orbital plane...
. It completes three rotations about its axis for every two orbits. The perihelion
An apsis , plural apsides , is the point of greatest or least distance of a body from one of the foci of its elliptical orbit. In modern celestial mechanics this focus is also the center of attraction, which is usually the center of mass of the system...
of Mercury's orbit precesses
In celestial mechanics, perihelion precession, apsidal precession or orbital precession is the precession of the orbit of a celestial body. More precisely it is the gradual rotation of the line joining the apsides of an orbit, which are the points of closest and farthest approach...
around the Sun at an excess of 43 arcseconds
Minute of arc
A minute of arc, arcminute, or minute of angle , is a unit of angular measurement equal to one sixtieth of one degree. In turn, a second of arc or arcsecond is one sixtieth of one minute of arc....
per century, a phenomenon that was explained in the 20th century by Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...
's General Theory of Relativity.