What is a year? Is it just a random number of days humans selected to mark a person becoming older or is there a science behind it? Do all planets have the same conventions for calculating a year? Which planet has the shortest year and which the longest? It would be fascinating to know what a year of life on another planet would be like. Would the year be excruciatingly long and maybe it might not be possible to survive for a human that long; or would it be so short as to a human might be hundreds of years old according to that planet’s age? Stay tuned to know all about it in the following article. If you want to know which planet has the shortest year and what that might entail, you might want to tighten your seat belts for this space odyssey.
What Is A Year?
A year is the layman’s name given to one complete revolution of the earth in its orbit around the Sun. Earth takes 365.256 days to do so. Rounding it off, we get a 365-day year on earth. The extra one quarter-day is adjusted every four years in the form of an extra day i.e. the 29th of February. This is known as the leap year. So, this tells us that it is not just any number that was selected to mark a year. The number 365 has a reason to mark us a year older. So, does that mean that all planets have a different meaning of a year? Do all planets follow the same pattern and calculate a year based on the amount of time they take to complete one revolution around the Sun? This is fascinating! It essentially means that we would have a different numbered age on every planet.
Which Planet Has The Shortest Year?
Since all planets have years according to their revolution times, the planet with the smallest orbital time has the shortest year. That would make Mercury as the planet with the shortest year. The shortest year of our Solar System is merely 88 days of earth. So, in about 3 months of earth’s time, we would be a year older on Mercury. But at the same time, a day on Mercury is much longer than the 24-hour day we experience on earth. A day on Mercury is approximately 176 days of the earth. So, a year on Mercury is actually about half the length of a day on Mercury. It is thus quite hard to imagine how exactly a day and a year would work on Mercury as on earth. A new system might be developed for that if humans ever inhabit the planet. But since we are not living there yet, we need not think about it.
What Is A Year On Mercury Like?
Just imagine spending a year of 88 earth days on Mercury. You would expect to experience seasons just like the ones on earth. But here you are gravely mistaken. Mercury is quite different than the earth in this regard. Mercury has only two extreme seasons. It is either extremely hot or extremely cold depending on which side faces the Sun and which is away from the Sun. The hot temperatures on Mercury my reach up to 700 K while the coldest temperature falls up to 80 K, quite close to the absolute zero. The basic principle of seasons is the same as that on earth, but their intensity is far more due to the planet’s proximity to the Sun.
Which Exoplanet Has The Shortest Year?
Now that we know about our Solar System, it would be fair to know about the planets of other systems as well. Out of the exoplanets discovered and studied so far, the Super-Earth has the shortest year. This planet revolves around the star 55 Cancri, which has four other planets in its system. Super-Earth is the closest to its star has hence has the shortest year in its system. You can say it is the Mercury of its system as it also experiences very high temperatures. Super-Earth completes one revolution in only 17 hours and 41 minutes. This planet is approximately 40 light-years away from the earth and who knows, might inhabit humans someday. Imagine being a year older in just around 18 hours.
Why Is The Year Important?
We now know that Mercury indeed has the shortest year of all the planets of our Solar System. A year on Mercury is exceptionally different as it is even smaller than a day on the planet. This somehow leads to further questions about the Universe. Questions about how the ratio of rotational and revolutionary speeds might affect life on a planet. Questions on how we should balance these vast differences if the human race ever plans to inhabit more than one planet. All these questions are important to build a multi-planetary future for our species. For a “Star Wars” like the future, we need to have mechanisms in place that can take care of all these trivial things once that future arrives.
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