What had been taught to us in elementary school wasn’t completely correct: a little further information was missing. The Earth does not in fact orbit the Sun, but the Sun orbits the gravity center of the Solar System along with all the other planets. The adscititious detail, which had provided a bigger picture for scientists to make discoveries, has been visualized.
A planetary scientist from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, has created a small animation explaining the situation, earlier this year.
The logic of the center of gravity, in other words, barycenter, is that it is closest to the object with the most mass.
“While the Sun contains 99.8% of the Solar System’s mass Jupiter holds most of the rest (Saturn is 2nd), so the Sun actually orbits Jupiter slightly,” explains O’Donoghue. So, basically the barycenter is shared between the Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn with their power of gravity due to their masses.
As seen in the video, the Sun is not able to draw a decent circle around the barycenter, which was presented with a green star-shaped mark, as it is affected by the mass of Jupiter and a little bit that of Saturn.
Dr. O’Donoughue continued his analysis with Pluto and Earth, two other bodies orbiting the center of mass.
The example of Pluto is also from May, but it has come to the fore related to the recent visualization.
“Pluto and Charon give a fine example of how bodies orbit the center of mass (barycenter).” he explains. One difference is that the barycenter is always outside of Pluto. Charon being 12% of Pluto’s mass, they follow a tidally locked rotation with Pluto.
The last example is that of Earth and Moon.
The scientist visualizes the Earth’s path over the next few years in 3D and the “Earth is 4750 km away from the barycenter due to Moon’s influence.” he adds.
O’Donoghue also explains that the Sun’s center and the solar system’s center of mass coincide very rarely.