How far is the Earth/Sun above/below the galactic plane, and is it heading toward/away from it?

  • How far is the Earth/Sun above/below the galactic plane, and is it heading toward/away from it?
    We know the Sun is orbiting the galactic center every 225 million years.
    But how far are we from the galactic plane, and is the inclination of the plane of the Sun's orbit around the galactic center, as compared to the galactic plane, known?



    Direction of Sun's motion



    According to this drawing



    Direction of Sun's motion



    the Sun is traveling approximately in the ecliptic plane.
    However, the ecliptic plane is steeply inclined to the galactic plane, so if this drawing is correct (from voyager.jpl.nasa.gov) then this would mean the plane of the Sun's orbit around the galactic center is also quite inclined.
    And thus my question, what is the distance to the galactic plane, are we heading toward/away from it, and what is the inclination of the orbital plane of our Sun/solar system to the galactic plane? 3 questions I guess.


  • Schleis

    Schleis Correct answer

    8 years ago

    According to this article, we are somewhere between 75 and 101 light years above the plane and getting closer. So we won't be crossing it for quite some time.



    http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/will-earth-pass-through-galactic-plane-in-2012



    This page has references to the research in regards to the calculations.



    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v316/n6030/abs/316706a0.html


    This answer is incorrect in detail. The Sun is moving away from the Galactic plane.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM