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Wait what?!! Giant Jupiter doesn’t orbit the Sun but it’s actually other way around?

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Lucknow: Don’t shy to rectify someone who tells you that all planets revolve around the Sun because Jupiter sadly doesn’t follow the rule and shockingly it is the Sun that actually orbits Jupiter.

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It is common knowledge that the Sun is the center of our solar system and that the planets orbit around it along with a thick belt of asteroids, some meteor fields, and a handful of far-traveling comets. But for a planet like Jupiter with daunting mass – that weighs more than twice the mass of all the other planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and more combined – celestial path changes a bit, hence, giving it its own point in space to orbit around.

Notably, the Sun makes up 99.8% of the solar system’s mass, but Jupiter contains most of the remaining 0.2%. That mass pulls on the center of mass between it and the sun, also known as the barycenter, some 1.07 solar radii from the star’s center – which is about 30,000 miles above the sun’s surface.

That center of mass, called the barycenter, is the point of an object at which it can be balanced perfectly, with all its mass distributed evenly on all sides. In our solar system, that point rarely lines up with the center of the Sun. 

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The gas giant in our solar system is more than 1,000 less massive than the Sun and takes up nearly 1,000 times less space, but it’s sizeable enough that both the Sun and Jupiter orbit around that point in space.

When a small object orbits a big object in space, the less massive one doesn’t really travel in a perfect circle around the larger one. Rather, both objects orbit a combined center of gravity. In essence, that’s how Jupiter and the Sun move through space together – though the distances and sizes are far different.

So the next time if someone tells you that Jupiter circles the sun, you’d be forgiven for reading this article out loud to them.

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