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Thread: question about the Oort cloud

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    Default question about the Oort cloud



    I was reading about the journey of the voyager spacecrafts. I understand that they passed the termination shock and also passed heliopause, now they are classified as having passed out of the solar system. But I hear they are to enter the Oort cloud and pass through it.
    If Oort cloud is orbiting the solar system, why is it considered exta-solar and why do we state that voyagers went past the solar system?

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    Default Re: question about the Oort cloud

    The Oort Cloud is not considered to be orbiting the Sun. Some objects in it may be weakly bound others aren't.

    Leaving the Solar System is defined by the boundary between the Sun's magnetosphere and the galaxy's magnetic environment .

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    Default Re: question about the Oort cloud

    Thanks for the reply. Then what are they bound to?
    All pictorial representation I ever saw show them as a cloud around the sun. If they are not orbiting the sun what are they bound to? If not orbiting the sun can they be considered part of some interstellar dust cloud?

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    Default Re: question about the Oort cloud

    Quote Originally Posted by vprasady266 View Post
    Thanks for the reply. Then what are they bound to?
    Objects within the cloud are bound to the Sun, if they are bound, and if they are not bound to the Sun they are just passing by, temporarily affected by the Sun's gravity.

    All pictorial representation I ever saw show them as a cloud around the sun. If they are not orbiting the sun what are they bound to? If not orbiting the sun can they be considered part of some interstellar dust cloud?
    The Oort Cloud extends as far as several light years. It is affected by nearby stars as well as the Sun. It is best thought of as a density fluctuation on the interstellar medium. The origin of the bodies is thought to be scattering from the formation of the solar system. But thinking of it as belonging to the Sun and under the Sun's gravitational domination is giving the Sun too much influence.

    Since it extends as far as ~3 light years and the nearest star is ~4 light years away and that star likely has it's own Oort cloud equivalent the idea of these things being under orbital control of the stars they surround is too simple. They can't properly be considered to be part of the interstellar medium either since their material has been processed by the formation of planetary systems.

    Nature has a way of confounding logical categories based on human words and labels.

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