Solar mass
Overview
 
The solar mass , is a standard unit of mass in astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

, used to indicate the masses of other star
Star
A star is a massive, luminous sphere of plasma held together by gravity. At the end of its lifetime, a star can also contain a proportion of degenerate matter. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth...

s and galaxies
Galaxy
A galaxy is a massive, gravitationally bound system that consists of stars and stellar remnants, an interstellar medium of gas and dust, and an important but poorly understood component tentatively dubbed dark matter. The word galaxy is derived from the Greek galaxias , literally "milky", a...

. It is equal to the mass of the Sun
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...

, about two nonillion
Names of large numbers
This article lists and discusses the usage and derivation of names of large numbers, together with their possible extensions.The following table lists those names of large numbers which are found in many English dictionaries and thus have a special claim to being "real words"...

 kilogram
Kilogram
The kilogram or kilogramme , also known as the kilo, is the base unit of mass in the International System of Units and is defined as being equal to the mass of the International Prototype Kilogram , which is almost exactly equal to the mass of one liter of water...

s or about 332,950 times the mass of the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 or 1,048 times the mass of Jupiter
Jupiter
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

.


The solar mass can be determined from the length of the year, the distance of the Earth to the Sun (the astronomical unit
Astronomical unit
An astronomical unit is a unit of length equal to about or approximately the mean Earth–Sun distance....

) (AU), and the gravitational constant
Gravitational constant
The gravitational constant, denoted G, is an empirical physical constant involved in the calculation of the gravitational attraction between objects with mass. It appears in Newton's law of universal gravitation and in Einstein's theory of general relativity. It is also known as the universal...

 (G) as
.

The value of the gravitational constant was derived from 1798 measurements by Henry Cavendish
Henry Cavendish
Henry Cavendish FRS was a British scientist noted for his discovery of hydrogen or what he called "inflammable air". He described the density of inflammable air, which formed water on combustion, in a 1766 paper "On Factitious Airs". Antoine Lavoisier later reproduced Cavendish's experiment and...

 using a torsion balance.
Encyclopedia
The solar mass , is a standard unit of mass in astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

, used to indicate the masses of other star
Star
A star is a massive, luminous sphere of plasma held together by gravity. At the end of its lifetime, a star can also contain a proportion of degenerate matter. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth...

s and galaxies
Galaxy
A galaxy is a massive, gravitationally bound system that consists of stars and stellar remnants, an interstellar medium of gas and dust, and an important but poorly understood component tentatively dubbed dark matter. The word galaxy is derived from the Greek galaxias , literally "milky", a...

. It is equal to the mass of the Sun
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...

, about two nonillion
Names of large numbers
This article lists and discusses the usage and derivation of names of large numbers, together with their possible extensions.The following table lists those names of large numbers which are found in many English dictionaries and thus have a special claim to being "real words"...

 kilogram
Kilogram
The kilogram or kilogramme , also known as the kilo, is the base unit of mass in the International System of Units and is defined as being equal to the mass of the International Prototype Kilogram , which is almost exactly equal to the mass of one liter of water...

s or about 332,950 times the mass of the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 or 1,048 times the mass of Jupiter
Jupiter
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

.


The solar mass can be determined from the length of the year, the distance of the Earth to the Sun (the astronomical unit
Astronomical unit
An astronomical unit is a unit of length equal to about or approximately the mean Earth–Sun distance....

) (AU), and the gravitational constant
Gravitational constant
The gravitational constant, denoted G, is an empirical physical constant involved in the calculation of the gravitational attraction between objects with mass. It appears in Newton's law of universal gravitation and in Einstein's theory of general relativity. It is also known as the universal...

 (G) as
.

The value of the gravitational constant was derived from 1798 measurements by Henry Cavendish
Henry Cavendish
Henry Cavendish FRS was a British scientist noted for his discovery of hydrogen or what he called "inflammable air". He described the density of inflammable air, which formed water on combustion, in a 1766 paper "On Factitious Airs". Antoine Lavoisier later reproduced Cavendish's experiment and...

 using a torsion balance. The value obtained differed only by about 1% from the modern value. The diurnal parallax of the Sun was accurately measured during the transits of Venus in 1761 and 1769, yielding a value of 9″ (compared to the present 1976 value of 8.794148″). When the value of the diurnal parallax is known, the distance to the Sun can be determined from the geometry of the Earth.

The first person to estimate the mass of the Sun was Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

. In his work Principia
Principia
Principia could refer to:*Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Isaac Newton's three-volume work containing explanations of his laws of motion and his law of universal gravitation*Principia , a stem-group coralline alga...

, he estimated that the ratio of the mass of the Earth to the Sun was about 1/28,700. Later he determined that this value was based upon a faulty value for the solar parallax, which was used to estimate the distance to the Sun (1 AU). He revised his result to obtain a ratio of 1/169,282 in the third edition of the Principia. The current value for the solar parallax is smaller still, giving a mass ratio of 1/332,946.

As a unit of measurement, the solar mass came into use before the AU and the gravitational constant were precisely measured. This is because the determination of the relative mass of another planet in the Solar System
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...

 or of a binary star in units of solar masses does not depend on these poorly known constants. So it was useful to express these masses in units of solar masses (see Gaussian gravitational constant
Gaussian gravitational constant
The Gaussian gravitational constant is an astronomical constant first proposed by German polymath Carl Friedrich Gauss in his 1809 work Theoria motus corporum coelestium in sectionibus conicis solem ambientum , although he had already used the concept to great success in predicting the...

).

The mass of the Sun changes slowly, compared to the lifetime of the Sun. Mass is lost due to two main processes in nearly equal amounts. First, in the Sun's core
Solar core
The core of the Sun is considered to extend from the center to about 0.2 to 0.25 solar radius. It is the hottest part of the Sun and of the Solar System. It has a density of up to 150 g/cm³ and a temperature of close to 15,000,000 kelvin...

 hydrogen is converted into helium by nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion is the process by which two or more atomic nuclei join together, or "fuse", to form a single heavier nucleus. This is usually accompanied by the release or absorption of large quantities of energy...

, in particular the pp chain. Thereby mass is converted to energy in correspondence to the mass–energy equivalence. This energy is eventually radiated away by the Sun. The second process is the solar wind
Solar wind
The solar wind is a stream of charged particles ejected from the upper atmosphere of the Sun. It mostly consists of electrons and protons with energies usually between 1.5 and 10 keV. The stream of particles varies in temperature and speed over time...

, which is the ejection of mainly protons and electrons to outer space.

Related units

One Solar mass, M, can be converted to related units: Lunar mass (ML) Earth mass
Earth mass
Earth mass is the unit of mass equal to that of the Earth. 1 M⊕ = 5.9722 × 1024 kg. Earth mass is often used to describe masses of rocky terrestrial planets....

 (M)
  • 1 047.56 Jupiter mass
    Jupiter mass
    Jupiter mass , is the unit of mass equal to the total mass of the planet Jupiter . Jupiter mass is used to describe masses of the gas giants, such as the outer planets and extrasolar planets. It is also used in describing brown dwarfs....

     (MJ)


It is also frequently useful in general relativity
General relativity
General relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...

 to express mass in units of length or time.

See also

  • Chandrasekhar limit
    Chandrasekhar limit
    When a star starts running out of fuel, it usually cools off and collapses into one of three compact forms, depending on its total mass:* a White Dwarf, a big lump of Carbon and Oxygen atoms, almost like one huge molecule...

  • Gaussian gravitational constant
    Gaussian gravitational constant
    The Gaussian gravitational constant is an astronomical constant first proposed by German polymath Carl Friedrich Gauss in his 1809 work Theoria motus corporum coelestium in sectionibus conicis solem ambientum , although he had already used the concept to great success in predicting the...



  • Orders of magnitude (mass)
    Orders of magnitude (mass)
    To help compare different orders of magnitude, the following list describes various mass levels between 10−36 kg and 1060 kg.-Units of mass:...

  • The Sun
    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...

  • Sungrazing comet
    Sungrazing comet
    A sungrazing comet is a comet that passes extremely close to the Sun at perihelion – sometimes within a few thousand kilometres of the Sun's surface. While small sungrazers can be completely evaporated during such a close approach to the Sun, larger sungrazers can survive many perihelion passages...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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