promotion image of download ymail app

Do the planets in our system orbit in the same plane in which we are orbiting the galactic core?

And how about other systems that we know about? For example, very few exoplanets are transiting, so those that are, is it coincidence or what?

3 Answers

  • Dr Bob
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The planets in our solar system all orbit in roughly the same plane. The plane of the earth's orbit (the ecliptic) is inclined by 60.2 degrees to the plane of the galaxy. You can see this in a dark sky if you notice that the Milky Way is highly inclined to the constellations of the ecliptic.

    Should we expect other planetary systems to be in a plane similar to that of the galaxy? Probably not. Remember that the galaxy formed about 13 billion years ago, whereas many stars (such as the sun) formed more recently; so their formation was affected more by local conditions than by the original rotation of the galaxy. (For instance, a supernova goes off and gives some spin to nearby systems in the process of forming a star and planets.)

    Regarding the external planets, I think the number of eclipsing planets is a matter of coincidence. A planet is small and its orbit is large; we have to be lined up just right to see an external planet pass in front of its star.


    The inclination given by Hermoderus of 63 degrees is incorrect. I can't blame him, because I've seen this incorrect value many times, even in a professional astronomy paper! 63 degrees is the inclination of the galactic plane to the *equator*, not the ecliptic. I gave a long explanation of how you get 60.2 degrees at

    One of the things I mentioned there is that the coordinates of the galactic north pole (in the equatorial system) are

    alpha = 12 h 51 m

    delta = 27 degrees 8 minutes

    = approximately 27.1 degrees

    The inclination of the galactic plane to the equator is therefore

    90-27.1 = 62.9 degrees

    but the inclination to the ecliptic is 60.2 degrees. It's a small difference, but people often confuse the two.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    No, the plane of the ecliptic is inclined approximately 63 degrees relative to the galactic plane, and the ecliptics of other known star systems appear to be oriented in a more-or-less random fashion. Even if all star systems were coplanar with the galaxy as a whole, relatively few exoplanets would transit relative to the Earth given the extremely small angular size of distant stars, and the fact that the galaxy has "thickness" as well as width and length.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    All of the planets in our solar system orbit the sun in the same plane, with the exception of Pluto, which recently lost planet status. Note that the Asteroid Belt also falls within this same plane. There are gravitational attraction reasons for this.

    Our Milky Way galaxy is a planar galaxy, with the Earth well-out towards the edge.

    Source(s): I am a scientist and took a couple of college astronomy courses many years ago
    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.