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The Solar System An Inventory Dozens of moons Thousands of asteroids Trillions of comets What is the Solar System? Answer: The system of objects in the solar neighborhood (near the Sun) What are these objects? One Star Six Planets Nine Planets The Discovered Planets

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the solar system

The Solar System

An Inventory

what is the solar system

Dozens of moons

Thousands of asteroids

Trillions of comets

What is the Solar System?
  • Answer: The system of objects in the solar neighborhood (near the Sun)
  • What are these objects?

One Star

Six Planets

Nine Planets

the discovered planets
The Discovered Planets
  • All planets through Saturn known since the ancients – all you have to do is look up to see them
  • Uranus discovered in 1781 by William Herschel
    • He wanted to name the planet “Georgium Sidus” after his king and patron, George III of England
  • Neptune was first seen in 1846 by Johann Galle using predictions by Urbain Jean Joseph Leverrier and John Couch Adams
  • Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh at Lowell observatory
  • The first step to studying planets?
  • Compare and contrast
  • What are important quantities?
  • You have:
    • A stick
    • A tree
    • A car
    • A house
  • What are the important quantities?
density and mass
Density and Mass
  • What is mass?
    • Mass is similar to weight, it measures how much stuff an object is made of
    • Example: A bowling ball and a soccer ball are about the same size, but have different masses
  • What is density?
    • Density is mass per volume. It helps to tell you what kind of stuff an object is made of
    • Example: A log and a tree have different masses (and sizes), but the same density because they are made of the same stuff
terrestrial planets
Terrestrial Planets
  • Close to the sun
  • Small
    • Mass
    • Radius
  • High density
    • Primarily rocky
    • Solid surface
  • Weak magnetic field
  • Few moons
  • No rings
jovian planets
Jovian Planets
  • Far from the sun
  • Large
    • Mass
    • Radius
  • Low density
    • Primarily gaseous
    • No solid surface
  • Strong magnetic fields
  • Many moons
  • Many rings
what about pluto
What About Pluto?
  • Pluto does not easily fit into either category
    • Far from the sun (jovian)
    • Small (terrestrial)
    • Neither rocky nor gaseous (icy)
    • One moon
    • No rings
  • It is similar is composition to some moons in the outer solar system and its orbit is similar to a group of objects called “Kuiper Belt Objects” or KBOs
  • Only planet in our Solar System that has not been visited by a NASA (or any other) spacecraft
  • Largest of any moon in relation to the planet it orbits (1/2 the size of Pluto)
  • Pluto and Charon are tidally locked to each other (always show the same face)
  • Charon discovered in 1978 by astronomers at the US Naval Observatory
  • Where did the Solar System come from?
  • First, what observations can we make that will constrain the origin of the Solar System?
model requirements
Model Requirements
  • Planet’s are isolated
  • Planetary orbits are nearly circular
  • All planetary orbits lie in the same plane
  • All planets orbit in the same direction as the Sun’s rotation
  • All planets rotate in the same direction as the Sun
  • Most moons rotate in the same direction as the planet they orbit
  • The planetary system is highly differentiated
  • In general, planets get less dense as they get further from the Sun
  • They go from being composed of metals, to rocks, to ices, to gases
  • In other words, they go from being made of things with high melting temperatures to things with low melting temperatures
highlights of the current theory
Highlights of the current theory
  • Nebular contraction
    • Mutual gravity causes contraction
    • Conservation of momentum increases speed
  • Planetary formation (accretion)
differentiation revisited
Differentiation revisited
  • As the solar nebula contracted, the center became hotter than the rest of the cloud
  • As elements condensed out of the nebulae, temperature determined which could form
clearing of the nebula
Clearing of the nebula
  • After the planets formed, some small debris still remained. All of these small objects were affected by the gravity of the much larger planets. The debris either:
    • Hit a planet
    • Hit the Sun
    • Was thrown out of the area near the planets – becoming KBOs
explaining observation
Explaining observation
  • Matching model requirements:
    • Point (1) is due to planetesimal growth
    • Points (2), (3), (4), (5), and (6) are due to conservation of angular momentum and gravitational collapse
    • Point (7) is due to the heating in the nebula
  • Anomalies:
    • Retrograde rotation of Venus
    • Uranus’ axial tilt
    • The Earth’s moon
    • All can be explained by impacts of protoplanets into the planet soon after its formation