I have often wished I could find facts and numbers about the solar system and beyond in one place. For example, data on size, distance and mass about the most commonly talked about heavenly bodies. Or alternatively, relative comparisons between them?
Sample these questions that often hit me.
How big is the Milky way? How much bigger is it in comparison to our solar system?
How many earths is the sun equal to?
How massive is the sun compared to the earth? Or the milky way compared to the solar system?
The tables below gives you answers to these kind of questions.
Comparison Table: Sizes and distances of bodies in the solar system and beyond
The first one here cross references sizes and distances on the two axis thus allowing you to look at sizes and distances (all numbers are in metres) in both absolute and relative terms. Click on it to expand.
Comparison table: Masses of bodies in the solar system and beyond
This second table here gives a similar comparison but in terms of mass (unit used is kilograms).Click on it to expand.
Amazing astronomical facts
Some of my favourite data points from the table above are
The known universe has a diameter of about 97 billion light years which is about 92,000 times that diameter of our milky way. It is also 15 billion times as massive.
The diameter of the milky way is about 100 million times bigger than that of the solar system while the mass is about 1000 billion times.
The diameter of the largest known star, VY Canis Majoris is approx 2000 times bigger than our own sun but the mass is only 30 times.
The sun has a radius of more than 100 times earth (volume comparison: More than a million earths can fit into the sun) while the mass is a 300, 000 times.
The diameter of Jupiter is 11 times that of earth (implying Jupiter is equal to more about 1300 earths in volume terms) while the mass is about 300 times thanks to the gaseous nature of Jupiter.
Do note that some of the data provided is being continuously updated / debated – e.g the biggest known galaxy / star as either new ones are discovered or better measurements become available on the existing bodies.
Note: Have borrowed significantly from Universe by numbers to create the table above while also adding some more data points.
Let me know if you find the table useful as a ready reference.