The Formation of Our Solar System

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by ashleymiller89
Last updated 5 years ago

Discipline:
Science
Subject:
Planets
Grade:
9,10,11,12

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The Formation of Our Solar System

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1. Astronomy and planetary exploration reveal the solar system’s structure, scale, and change over time. As a basis for understanding this concept: a. Students know how the differences and similarities among the sun, the terrestrial planets, and the gas planets may have been established during the formation of the solar system.

Earth’s Place in the Universe(Grades 9-12)

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Science State Standards

The Formation of Our Solar System

The cloud of matter and gasstarted to spin faster and faster.

A supernova forced clouds of gas, dust, and ice together.

The spinning motion flattened the dust to form an accretion disc of dust and planetesimals

As matter, gas, and planetesimals collided in the disc, larger bodies took shape, eventually forming planets.

Mercury

Venus

Saturn

Mars

Jupiter

Earth

Neptune

Uranus

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is a rocky surface and made up of 70% iron and the rest is other heavy metals and silicates.

has an iron core and rockymantle much like Earth and is coposed 96% of nitrogen and 3% of small amount of other gases

looks red because it is covered with iron oxide which is rust and its composition is much like that of Earth except there is no liquid water on the planet. It is made mainly of iron and sulfur and has a crust of basalt.

Its core is made up of rock, metal, and hydrogen compounds. Its mantle is made up of liquid hydrogen and helium and its cloud tops are made of the gases hydrogen and helium. The atmosphere is made up of 89.8% hydrogen and 10.2% helium with small amounts of methane and ammonia.

is made up of 94% hydrogen and 6% helium and small amounts of methane and ammonia.

consist primarily of 80% hydrogen and 19% helium. It also consists of small amounts of water, methane, ammonia, and other compounds that can form ice. It has a blue-green color to it because of the methane gas in its atmosphere.

is made up of frozen methane gas, which gives it the bluish-green color.

is unique because of its abundance in water and has the right combination to sustain life. Oceans cover about 70% of Earth’s surface and it has many elements that compose it such as iron, oxygen, silicon, magnesium, sulfur, nickel, calcium, aluminum, and other small amounts of elements.

What Does the Future Hold?

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The Terrestrial Planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) are thought to have formed because the area in which they reside was too warm for molecules like water and methane to condense them, so here they formed from compounds with high melting points and because of them, these planets could not grow very big. Collisions between these planet-sized bodies allowed these terrestrial planets to grow to their present sizes. When these planets were forming, they remained in a cloud of dust and gas. The Gas Giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) were formed further out from the Sun and beyond the frost line. The ices that formed these giant planets were more abundant than the metals that formed the terrestrial planets, which allowed for the gas planets to grow so huge and capture the elements helium and hydrogen, the lightest and most abundant elements. As of present day, these four gas giants comprise just under 99% of all the mass that is orbiting the Sun. Jupiter was formed right after the front line. The frost line acted like a barrier and caused materials to come together at a rapid pace and formed into a large like embryo of about the size of ten Earths. Jupiter didn’t stop forming there, the embryo like cluster grew rapidly by swallowing hydrogen and reached over 150 Earths in about another 1000 years after it first formed. In present day now, Jupiter is about the size of 318 Earth masses. Saturn has a much lower mass than Jupiter, and it is thought to be because it was formed a few million years after and there was less gas to consume. Uranus and Neptune, the ice giants, formed after Jupiter and Saturn when a strong solar wind blew away most of the disc material. Because of this, Neptune and Uranus are both much smaller than that of their fellow gas planets because they did not accumulate as much helium and hydrogen and are about the size of 1 Earth each. There is no absolute knowing of the timeline of these planets, but it is thought that these two planets formed closer to the Sun and even between Jupiter and Saturn and then later migrated outwards. The planets stop here after Uranus and Neptune and the reason no other planets ever formed was because accretion, the process in which the growth of an object is gravitationally attracted to more matter, was too slow to allow planets to form before the solar nebula and the initial disc that was formed lacked enough mass density to collide together to form anymore planets.

The formation of the Solar System is to be believed to have begun 4.6 billion years ago with the falling apart of a giant molecular cloud. When the collapse happened, it mainly happened in the center, which formed the Sun, while everything else flattened and surrounded it becoming the planets, asteroids, moons, and other smaller solar system bodies. Ever since the Solar System was first formed, it has evolved since then. The positions of the planets have often shifted and planets have even switched places. The planets we know today are thought to have formed from the left over gas and dust from the Sun’s formation. It is to be believed that the planets begun as dust grains that were in orbit and through direct contact, these grains formed into clumps and then collided to form larger bodies. The larger bodies gradually increased through more collisions and thus growing per year over the course of the next few million years.

The Solar System continues to evolve and it is thought that it will not change too much until the Sun fuses all of its hydrogen into helium, which will begin its evolution into the red giant phase. The Red Giant phase is estimated to happen 5 billion years from now when the Sun cools and expands outward many times its size and casting off its layers and leaving behind a stellar leftover called a white dwarf. From the white dwarf, the sun will continue to cool and dim until it becomes a black dwarf. In the future, many many years from now, the gravity of passing stars will gradually reduce the Sun’s following of planets. Some planets will be destroyed, others will go into interstellar space and it is thought that in tens of billions of years, it is likely that the Sun will be left with none of its original bodies in orbit around it.

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Moons are thought to have formed by one of three possible ways and they are the co-formation from a planetary disc, the formation from impact debris, and the capturing of a passing object. Jupiter and Saturn have several large moons which are thought to have come from discs around each giant gas planet in the same way the planets were formed from the disc around the Sun. Mars’s two moons are thought to be captured asteroids and the Earth’s moon is thought to have formed as a result of a large collision. How is it that there is life on Earth, but nowhere else? Complex organic molecules were formed that were necessary for life and were formed from the same disk of dust grains that were surrounding the Sun before the Earth was formed. It is believed that these same molecules and process have occurred around other stars that acquire planets, which means there may be more life somewhere we don’t know about yet.

Our Earth and the Moon


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