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The Solar System. Chapter 23, Section 1. The Planets: An Overview. Terrestrial Planet – any of the Earth-like planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars

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The Solar System

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The solar system

The Solar System

Chapter 23, Section 1

The planets an overview

The Planets: An Overview

  • Terrestrial Planet – any of the Earth-like planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars

  • Jovian Planet – the Jupiter-like planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune; these planets have relatively low densities and are huge gas giants

  • Size is the most obvious difference between the terrestrial and the Jovian planets

  • The diameter of the largest terrestrial planet, Earth, is only ¼ the diameter of the smallest Jovian planet, Neptune; it’s mass is only 1/17 that of Neptune

  • Density, chemical makeup, and rate of rotation are other ways in which the two groups of planets differ

  • The densities of the terrestrial planets average about 5 times that of water, while the Jovian planets only average about 1.5 times that of water

Planets drawn to scale

Planets Drawn to Scale

The interiors of the planets

The Interiors of the Planets

  • The substances that make up the planets are divided into 3 groups: gases, rocks, and ices

  • Gases – Hydrogen and Helium (melting point = -273oC)

  • Rocks – Silicate minerals and metallic iron (melting point = 700oC)

  • Ices – Ammonia, methane, carbon dioxide, and water (melting point = 0oC)

  • Terrestrial planets contain mostly rock material, while the Jovian planets contain the gases and ices.

The interiors of the planets1

The Interiors of the Planets

The atmospheres of the planets

The Atmospheres of the Planets

  • A planet’s ability to retain an atmosphere depends on its mass and size

  • Jovian planets have thick atmospheres of hydrogen, helium, methane, and ammonia, due to their high surface gravities and the ability to hold on to the light gases

  • Terrestrial planets have very small atmospheres in comparison, with the atmosphere making up only a small portion of the planet’s mass

The atmospheres of the planets1

The Atmospheres of the Planets

Formation of the solar system nebular theory

Formation of the Solar System – Nebular Theory

  • Nebula – a cloud of dust and gas in space

  • These thin gaseous clouds begin to rotate and contract, and then spin faster

  • According to the nebular theory, the sun and planets formed from a rotating disk of dust and gases

  • As the speed of rotation increased, the center of the disk began to flatten out

  • The matter became more concentrated in the center, eventually igniting a nuclear reaction (the sun)

Formation of the solar system planetesimals

Formation of the Solar System – Planetesimals

  • Planetesimals – small, irregularly shaped bodies; formed from the collision of matter in space

  • As the collisions continued, the planetesimals grew larger, and began exerting their own gravity

  • In the inner solar system, it was so hot that only the metals and silicate materials could form

  • In the outer solar system, it was cool enough for the planets to attract ice and gases to add to their mass

Formation of the solar system nebular theory1

Formation of the Solar System – Nebular Theory



  • Read Chapter 23, Section 1 (pg. 644-648)

  • Do Section 23.1 Assessment #1-7 (pg. 648)

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