a tour of the solar system
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A Tour Of The Solar System. Galaxies. Galaxies are huge regions of space that contain the stars, planets, and other astronomical features They can have many shapes Spiral Elliptical Irregular Our galaxy is known as the milky way galaxy

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  • Galaxies are huge regions of space that contain the stars, planets, and other astronomical features
  • They can have many shapes
    • Spiral
    • Elliptical
    • Irregular
  • Our galaxy is known as the milky way galaxy
  • Http://www.astro.Princeton.edu/~frei/Gcat_htm/cat_ims.htm
milky way galaxy
Milky Way Galaxy
  • 80,000 light years across
  • Spiral shaped with 4 arms
  • We are located in the Orion arm
  • Nearest neighbor is Andromeda (2.2 Million light years)
origin of the solar system
Origin of the Solar System
  • The solar system began as nothing more than dust
  • Gravity caused the dust to condense and spin
  • As the cloud gets hotter and denser fusion takes place
  • The fusion results in the birth of a star
proto planetary disc
Proto – Planetary Disc
  • As our star, the sun, is being formed it is surrounded by a disc of debris and gas
  • These particles interact and accumulate to form the plants
  • When the sun forms it emits solar wind
  • This wind pushes lighter material outward (the gases)
the sun
The Sun
  • One of more than 100 billion in our galaxy
  • Rotates about the nucleus at about 137 miles/sec
  • Takes about 200 million years to complete a rotation
  • Accounts for 99.8% of the mass of our solar system
the sun cont
The Sun Cont.
  • The sun is the center of the solar system
  • Because it is so massive all of the planets are captured in its gravity field and orbit it
  • Composed of 75% hydrogen and 25% helium
  • The core is about 15.6 million Kelvin
  • The surface, photosphere, is about 5800 K
the planets
The Planets
  • There are 9 planets that orbit the sun
  • The orbit is in an elliptical path
  • The plane along which the planets orbit is known as the ecliptic
the earth
The Earth
  • 3rd rock from the sun (5th largest)
  • 149,600,000 km from the sun
  • Rotation: 23 hr 56 min
  • Orbit: 365.26 days
  • Mass: 5.97 x 1024 kg
  • Gravity: 1.0
  • Obliquity: 23.5 degrees
formation of the earth
Formation of the Earth
  • The earth was formed from accreted particles in the proto-planetary disc about 4.6 Ga
  • As the material was accreted it began to differentiate (responsible for internal layering)
  • The denser material sank towards the center (iron core)
  • Lighter material rose towards the top (crust)
  • The earth spins about an axis that is at an angle of 23 degrees with the ecliptic
  • This angle causes different regions of the earth to experience variable amounts of sunlight throughout the year
earth s magnetic field
Earth’s Magnetic Field
  • The liquid outer core of the earth is in a state of convection
  • This convection is responsible for a magnetic field about the earth
  • The magnetic field of the earth resembles that of a bar magnet
  • Solar wind from the sun interacts with the magnetic field to create the northern lights
earth s oceans and atmosphere
The earth is distinguishable from the other terrestrial planets because of its surface water

Water accounts for 71% of the earth’s surface

The earth’s atmosphere is 77% nitrogen and 21% oxygen

The atmosphere helps block out harmful rays and maintains the surface temperature

Earth’s Oceans and Atmosphere
the moon
The Moon
  • Earth’s only satellite
  • 384,000 km from earth
  • 1738 km radius
  • Mass: 0.07 x 1024 kg
  • Gravity: 0.16
  • Orbit: 27.32 days
  • Rotation: 27.32 days
  • 4.4 Ga old
  • No:
    • Magnetic field
    • Oceans
    • Plate tectonics
    • Atmosphere
moon formation
Moon Formation
  • During the earth’s formation a large object collided with the earth
  • The ejected material is the moon
  • Differentiation was already in process so the moon is composed of the lighter external materials (largely basalts)
moon s surface
Moon’s Surface
  • The surface of the moon is composed largely of basalts
  • The major surface feature are craters from meteoroid impacts
  • Evidence of lava flows exist for impact craters greater than 100 km
the moon s rotation
The Moon’s Rotation
  • The rotation of the moon is the same as the orbit.
  • This implies that we always see the same side of the moon.
  • The phase of the moon that we see depends on the moon’s location relative to the sun
  • Closest planet to the sun (58 million km)
  • Second smallest planet 2,439 km radius
  • Mass: .33 x 1024 kg
  • Gravity: 0.38
  • Orbit: 87.96 days
  • Rotation: 58.65 days
mercury rotation
Mercury Rotation
  • Mercury rotates 1.5 times per each orbit
  • This 3:2 ratio causes the mercury day to be extremely long (176 earth days)
  • During the day the surface can get as hot as 700 K
  • During the night the surface cools to 100 K
mercury surface
Mercury Surface
  • Dominated by craters and basins
    • Cratering took place early (ended 3.8 Ga)
  • Largest basin: Caloris Planitia
    • 1300 km diameter
  • Plains regions also exist
    • Evidence of lava flows
  • Scarps are other surface features
    • Evidence of contraction
mercury s interior
Mercury’s Interior
  • Despite its small size, mercury is very dense
  • Implies internal composition must be iron
  • Presence of a magnetic field (1% of earth’s) confirmed this
  • To account for magnetic field and density, mercury is 70% metal and 30% silicates
  • Believed that a large impact after differentiation ejected most of the silicate material
water atmosphere
No surface water exist on the surface of mercury

Potentially ice located in craters that see little sun (polar regions)

Possesses a thin atmosphere

Atmosphere is surface material lifted by solar wind interaction

Water / Atmosphere
  • 2nd planet from the sun (108 million km)
  • Radius: 6,052 km
  • Mass: 4.87 x 1024 kg
  • Gravity: 0.76
  • Orbit: 224.7 days
  • Rotation: 243 days
  • Very thick cloud cover
  • Atmosphere composed mostly of carbon dioxide
  • Clouds composed of sulfuric acid
  • Effect is a runaway greenhouse
  • Surface pressure: 90 atm (the same as 1 km depth in earth’s oceans)
  • Surface temperature: 700 K
venusian surface
Venusian Surface
  • Very dry
  • Young (500 my)
  • Mostly lava plains
  • Two regions of major relief
    • Ishtar terra (polar)
    • Aphrodite terra (equatorial)
  • Few impact craters
  • Volcanic features
venus interior
Venus Interior
  • Venus is very similar to earth in size, mass, and distance
  • Implies similar interior structure
  • The core of Venus is still hot from formation and radioactive materials
  • Implies the mantle convects
plate tectonics
Plate Tectonics?
  • Although Venus is currently inactive, did plate tectonics exist in the past?
  • Young surface age believed to be result of global overturn.
  • The overturn marks the transition from a mobile lithosphere to a stagnant lithosphere.
venus rotation
Venus Rotation
  • The obliquity of Venus is nearly 180 degrees.
  • The effect of this is a retrograde rotation.
  • On Venus it would appear as if the sun rose in west and sat in the east.
  • 4th planet from the sun (228 million km)
  • Radius: 3393 km
  • Mass: 0.64 x 1024 kg
  • Gravity: 0.39
  • Orbit: 686.98 days
  • Rotation: 24 hrs 37 min
mar s rotation atmosphere
Mars has an axial tilt of 25.

Orbital period is nearly twice that of the earth’s so seasons are nearly twice as long.

Tilt and highly elliptical orbit results in temperature variations from 140 K to 300 K.

The atmosphere of mars is very thin

Composed primarily of CO2

Seasonal dust storms results in a lot of dust in the atmosphere

Small % of water in atmosphere can produce clouds

Mar’s Rotation / Atmosphere
martian surface
Features include:

Shield volcanoes:

Olympus Mons (24 km high and 550 km wide)


Shield volcanoes that do not rise very high but extend for great distances.


Valles Marineris (3000 km long, 8 km deep, and 600 km wide)

Southern hemisphere heavily cratered while northern hemisphere is not


Martian Surface
  • Mars contains polar caps
  • Channels suggest water at some point in the martian history
  • Current hypothesis:
    • Water is located beneath the surface (much like permafrost on earth)
martian interior
Martian Interior
  • Smaller so had longer time to cool
  • Less dense so core probably has sulfer and iron composition
  • Core is 1700 km thick
  • Mantle: 1300 km
  • Crust: 80 km
is there life on mars
Is There Life on Mars?
  • Popular notion since Lowell
  • Believed that seasonal color changes were evidence of vegetation and channels were man made
  • Recent findings indicate some biological activity
moons of mars
Moons Of Mars
  • Two moons: Deimos and Phobos
  • Both carbon rich but low density suggest both contain ice as well
  • Probably astroids captured by mars gravity
  • Deimos smallest moon in solar system (6.3 km radius)
  • Phobos: 11 km radius but only 6000 km above surface
  • 5th planet from the sun (778.3 million km)
  • Radius: 71,398 km
  • Mass: 1900 x 1024 kg
  • Gravity: 2.74
  • Orbit: 4,333 days
  • Rotation: 9 hrs 50.5 min
jupiter composition
Jupiter Composition
  • Likely to have a rocky core (10 - 15 x the mass of the earth)
  • Above the core there exist liquid metallic hydrogen
    • Only exist at pressures > 4 million bars
    • Consist of ionized protons and electrons (source of magnetic field)
  • Outermost layer is regular hydrogen and helium
  • We actually observe the clouds of Jupiter
jupiter s clouds
Jupiter’s Clouds
  • Variable composition consisting of:
    • Ammonia ice
    • Ammonia hydrosulfide
    • Water and ice
  • Confined to bands of latitude that rotate in opposite directions
  • Most prominent feature is the GRS
    • High pressure zone (rises higher than surrounding clouds)
jupiter s rings
Jupiter’s Rings
  • Voyager discovered in 1971
  • Contains no ice
  • Very thin and dark
  • Composed of rocky material probably from the inner four moons
  • Constantly replenished since atmospheric and magnetic field deplete them
jupiter s moons
Jupiter’s Moons
  • At least 16
  • 4 largest (Galilean):
    • Callisto
    • Io
    • Ganymede
    • Europa
  • 4 inner moons:
    • Thebe
    • Metis
    • Andrastea
    • Amalthea
  • It is the center of a tug-a-war between Ganymede, Europa, and Jupiter
  • The effect is intense tidal volcanic activity
  • Surface temperature is low (-143 C)
  • Has a solid core surrounded by a rocky shell of silicate? Composition
  • Europa consist of a metallic core, a silicate rock layer, and water.
  • The outer ice shell of Europa is crisscrossed by dark bands.
  • Beneath the ice shell there is potentially large oceans.
  • Water exist because of tidal heating.
  • 6th planet from the sun (1427 million km)
  • Radius: 60,000 km
  • Mass: 569 x 1024 kg
  • Gravity: 1.17
  • Orbit: 10,579 days
  • Rotation: 10 hrs 14 min
saturn composition
Saturn Composition
  • Saturn’s interior is similar to Jupiter’s.
    • Rocky core, metallic hydrogen, hydrogen, helium, trace elements
  • Density less than that of water
  • Also possesses cloud cover
  • Clouds trapped in bands of latitude that rotate at variable speeds
    • Fastest at the equator
ring system of saturn1
Ring System of Saturn
  • Most interesting feature
  • Very thin (1.5 km thick) despite large diameter (250,000 km)
  • Composition is largely ice and rocky particles coated with ice
  • Broken into different regions
  • Origin unknown but must have some mechanism to replinish
    • Resonance of moons
moons of saturn
Moons of Saturn
  • 18 to date
  • All have densities less than 2 gm/cm3
    • 30 – 40% rock
    • 60 – 70% ice
  • Most interact with one another to produce stable and synchronous orbits
  • Titan is by far the largest with a radius of 2575 km
    • Once believed to be bigger but enormous atmosphere threw off calculations
  • 7th planet from the sun (2871 million km)
  • Radius: 25,559 km
  • Mass: 87 x 1024 kg
  • Gravity: 0.94
  • Orbit: 30,685 days
  • Rotation: 17 hrs 14 min
  • 8th planet from the sun (4497 million km)
  • Radius: 24,800 km
  • Mass: 103 x 1024 kg
  • Gravity: 1.15
  • Orbit: 60,188 days
  • Rotation: 16 hrs 3 min
  • Small rocky cores (3% of their mass)
  • Thick layer of rock and ice (85% of their mass)
    • Most likely in a liquid state (mud)
  • Atmosphere of hydrogen, helium, and trace materials
  • Similar to Jupiter and Saturn without the liquid metallic hydrogen
  • The striking blue color of these two planets is due to methane gas
    • Methane absorbs red light and reflects blue
  • Majority of the atmosphere is hydrogen and helium
  • Cloud features are more prominent on Neptune
  • Neptune once contained GDS (half the size of the GRS)
axial tilt
Axial Tilt
  • Neptune: 29; Uranus: 98
  • As a result both planets experience seasons
  • On Uranus the polar regions receive more sunlight yet equatorial regions are hotter
  • Lack of storms on Uranus as compared to Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune believed to be b/c of orientation
  • Both planets possess rings
  • Like Jupiter they are dark (charcoal color)
  • Compositon is unknown
  • Uranus:
    • 11 distinct regions
  • Neptune:
    • 4 distinct regions
uranus satellites
Uranus Satellites
  • Contains the most moons (24)
  • Named after the writings of Shakespeare and pope
  • 3 classes:
    • 11 small dark inner ones
    • 5 large ones
    • Outer new ones
  • Largest is Titania (789 km)
neptune satellites
8 known moons

Largest of which is Trition (1350 km)









Neptune Satellites
  • 9th planet from the sun (5913 million km)
  • Radius: 1,140 km
  • Mass: 0.01 x 1024 kg
  • Gravity: 0.03
  • Orbit: 90,700 days
  • Rotation: 6.387 days
  • The orbit of Pluto is very eccentric
  • During 20 of its 249 year orbit it is closer to the sun than Neptune
  • Pluto and Charon have the same rotation period
  • Average density is 1.8 – 2.1 g/cm3
    • Implies 50 – 75% rock
  • Charon: 1.2 – 1.3 g/cm3
  • Icy surface composed of:
    • 98% nitrogen
    • Traces of methane and carbon monoxide
  • Atmosphere is thin, constantly freezes, and falls to the surface
asteroids and comets
Asteroids and Comets
  • Believed to be remnants of primordial planets that were destroyed or never formed.
  • Therefore, they provide detailed information about past conditions.
  • Believed to originate in two locations.
    • Asteroid belt and Kuiper belt, respectively.

C-type: (75%) same composition as sun minus hydrogen and helium

S-type: (17%) nickel-iron mixed with iron and magnesium silicates

M-type: (8%) pure nickel-iron


Mixture of non-volatile grains and frozen gases

web sources
Web Sources
  • Amazing space web based activities
    • Interactive games and lessons
    • Http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/
  • BrainPop
    • Great movie
    • Http://www.brainpop.Com/science/space/solarsystem/
  • Build a solar system
    • How to build a scaled solar system
    • Http://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/solar_system/
  • NASA’s Observatorium
    • Games
    • Http://observe.ivv.nasa.Gov/nasa/fun/fun_index.shtml.Html
  • Space and astronomy
    • Lessons
    • http://www.athena.ivv.nasa.gov/curric/space/
web sources1
Web Sources
  • Galaxy Catalogue
    • Images of various galaxies
    • http://www.astro.princeton.edu/~frei/Gcat_htm/cat_ims.htm
  • Nine Planets
    • Lessons on the nine planets
    • http://www.seds.org/nineplanets/nineplanets/nineplanets.html
  • Seasons
    • Experiment to show cause of seasons
    • http://faldo.atmos.uiuc.edu/w_unit/LESSONS/seasons.html
  • Virtual Solar System
    • Lessons
    • http://freespace.virginnet.co.uk/solar.system/index.html
  • Views of the Solar System
    • Bio and pictures of the planets
    • http://www.hawastsoc.org/solar/eng/homepage.htm