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Need Term for a Star and Its Associated Bodies

  1. Mar 22, 2005 #1
    Is there a commonly used single term that describes a star and all of its associated bodies including its planets, asteroids, comets, Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud? If not, what is the most acceptable and shortest way of describing this structure?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 22, 2005 #2
    I would call it a "star system", or just "system".

    Like "solar system".
     
  4. Mar 22, 2005 #3
    A system?

    Rev Prez`
     
  5. Mar 22, 2005 #4

    chroot

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    "Planetary system" is the normal term.

    - Warren
     
  6. Mar 23, 2005 #5

    Nereid

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    (Belated) welcome to Physics Forums, Chris Russell!

    Warren - as usual - got it right; planetary system. If you want to distinguish between our own and any other, 'exoplanetary system'. Why do you ask?
     
  7. Mar 28, 2005 #6
    Planetary System, System Or ???

    Nereid,

    I’m thinking of the proto-stars in their nebular cocoons that Hubble has shown us recently and how I might want to describe with one or two words them and “planetary systems” that have matured like ours. Furthermore, a short handle is useful when describing travel from our system (I just noticed how easily I fell into using this word) to other “exosytems”, i.e., interstellar space travel. The phase “planetary system” doesn’t bring to mind the Kuiper Belt or Oort Cloud. I think of only the planets and the sun. Maybe in this era it is time to coin a new term that accomplishes my goal. By the way, heliosphere , “a spherical region around the sun, approximately 100 astronomical units in radius, outside which interstellar space begins”, almost makes it but misses because it describes a region not the stuff in that region and not the region beyond where the Oort Cloud lives - 30,000 AU to much as two light-years. I wonder if this definition puts the Oort Cloud in interstellar space. How about heliosystem or helio system? No, this is too much like solar system and it’s used in strange ways – just check Google. Maybe starsystem or star system will work. No, binary star systems come to mind. I don’t know. System isn’t bad despite its vagueness. But because of its vagueness you can think about just anything. The reader needs to know that you are talking about stars and what surrounds them or are members of them. That is what I’m looking for, a term or two for a star and everything about it and not about another star. Just for laughs: Think of a term an advanced extraterrestrial might use. Think of someone who routinely thinks of stars in the manner I’ve described. Maybe in a language other than English I’ll find my answer. Maybe we are relatively (think of all of extraterrestrial intelligent life) just infants when it comes to this idea.

    I am of the opinion that the Kuiper Belt and Oort Clouds about our star and other stars should be in the forefront of thought when considering interstellar space travel. I believe that they may be a threat. Collisions small and large may prevent successful missions; spacecraft may not make it through the Oort Cloud without being eroded or blown away. (I’ve put this possibility as a question on this forum.) I know that there is the opinion and maybe sufficient evidence that we should easily make it through the Oort Cloud because of the enormous distances between bodies. But I wonder if we really know what it is like out there. I doubt it. Maybe when if ever we launch a solar sail to the Oort Cloud we will find out - but I suspect not too soon.

    If we cannot make it through the Oort Cloud, we may have another reason for why we haven’t been visited. I’m think in science fiction terms somewhat but I have a real desire to learn if we will ever be able to leave our system and explore other systems. But whatever conclusion I come to, I what to accurately describe what I’m thinking about without being too wordy like I have been.
     
  8. Mar 28, 2005 #7

    chroot

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    Chris,

    Despite your apparent dislike, the term "planetary system" is that used by virtually all astronomers to describe everything bound to a star -- including the Kupier belt, Oort cloud, etc. If you'd like to communicate with professional astronomers, you should use their terminology.

    The Sun's heliopause, by the way, is generally taken to be more like 150 AU from the Sun.

    - Warren
     
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