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Celestial Bodies - Meaning, Definition and Classifications

A celestial body is a phenomenon that occurs naturally in space. Object and body are the two words that can be interchangeably used while talking about space and galaxy. Celestial bodies are strongly bonded entities that are complex in terms of shape and structure and comprise thousands of sub-objects inside them. Celestial bodies can also be called heavenly bodies and are objects in space such as the sun, moon, stars, and planets. In this article, we will discuss celestial bodies and their classifications.

Celestial objects are a part of the universe that appear in space and are located very far away from earth. For most of the heavenly groups, we can only view them using a telescope. They mostly appear in the night sky and cannot be seen through the naked eye. Celestial bodies are as large as earth and some are even bigger. They are found outside the earth’s atmosphere. The Kuiper belt can hold millions of celestial bodies.

Classification of celestial bodies

The following are the seven major types of classifications of celestial bodies in space:

  • Stars
  • Planets
  • Satellites
  • Comets
  • Asteroids
  • Meteor and meteorites
  • Galaxies

Stars

Stars are made up of spheroid plasma that is held up together tightly with the help of its gravitational force. Sun is also a type of star. The Sun is the closest star to earth. During the nighttime, there are millions of small stars which are visible to naked eye. Historically, some of the most noticeable stars were grouped as asterisms and constellations. They all seem very tiny to our eyes because of the distance from the earth to the stars. But actually, they are huge and some are even bigger than earth and other planets in the solar system.

Planets

A planet is a body that revolves around a star that is huge enough to be spherical by magnitude but not big enough to cause a thermonuclear fusion. The word planet is derived from a Greek word planetes that means wanderer. In ancient times, the naked eye could view five planets in our solar system. But nowadays, as technologies have developed, we are getting aware of the fact that planets change into multiple dissimilar objects or bodies. So, as of now, there are 8 planets in the solar system. They are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

Satellites

A satellite is a natural celestial object that is characterized by an orbit around a planet of the solar system. Some satellites are very close to earth, about a few hundred kilometers away. The natural satellite of earth is the moon. There are six terrestrial satellites in the solar system. They cover 185 known natural satellites. Recently, new research has proven that there are over 334 other planets as of September 2018 and they have their own natural satellites.

Comets

A comet is an icy object present in the solar system. A comet gets warm and even starts to emit gases when it gets closer and closer to the sun. This process of releasing gases is known as out-gassing. This can create a visible atmosphere or coma and at times, even a tail. This phenomenon happens because of the radiation from solar rays and the solar wind that acts along with the comet’s core.

Asteroids

Asteroids are observed to be minor planets, mainly because they are present inside the solar system. Big asteroids can be termed planetoids. These expressions were historically used to describe any astronomical body which orbited around the sun. Asteroids are different from other objects such as meteoroids and comets. Asteroids can be found closer to the sun than any other celestial body. This prevents the formation of cometary ice.

Meteor and Meteorites

A meteor can also be called a shooting star. Its path is visible. These are objects that enter our atmosphere when they are pulled by the earth’s gravity. They seem small and they burn up as they enter into the atmosphere of the earth. In case the meteors are large enough to reach the ground, and can create a crater, they are called meteorites.

Galaxies

When a large number of stars are held together with the help of gravity, they are described as a galaxy. For instance, the sun and the planets that are present in the solar system form a galaxy and it is known as the Milky Way galaxy. The other galaxies present in space are very far away and cannot be viewed through the naked eye.

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