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At the heart of our solar system, around which everything revolves, lies the sun — our nearest star. Its blazing furnace of thermonuclear fusion is the cornerstone to life on Earth.

Our neighbourhood consists of eight planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. It also consists of a number of dwarf planets, such as Pluto (which was stripped of its planetary status in 2006) and Ceres, as well as Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) that exist beyond the planets, and asteroids and comets. Our solar system is a busy place. However, it is also a vast place, with great distances separating the various planetary systems.

Our sun is about 4.6 billion years old, a result of gases and dust that swirled and joined together. Conversely, the age of our universe is approximately 13.8 billion years old.

The planets were formed after the remaining gases and dust (that weren’t used by the sun) slowly revolved around the new star. The parts that didn’t form into planets or their moon were left to circle the sun. Most of these objects lie in our asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter.

What remained, however, is the culmination of billions of years, which in time produced the planet most abundant with life: Earth. That is not to say, however, that the remaining planets in our solar system were and will always remain lifeless. Perhaps it is just that it will take us time to discover what lies beneath the surface of such rich and wondrous worlds.