“Facts” that must be accounted for in any theory of solar system formation • All the major planets orbit in almost the same plane • All the planets orbit in the same direction • Almost all the planets rotate in the same direction as they orbit • The inner planets are rocky bodies while the outer planets are gaseous and/or icy bodies • 99% of the mass of the solar system is in the Sun • Most of the angular momentum of the solar system is in the planets, not the Sun • Look at ClassAction Solar System Properties Explorer in the Solar System Characteristics module
We start with a cold cloud of gas and dust Because of the internal motions of the gas and dust, the cloud almost always has some slight overall rotation
The cloud starts to collapse due to gravity Angular momentum causes the cloud’s initial slow rotation to spin faster and flatten out
Angular momentum is what causes a skater to “spin-up” Angular momentum depends on both the velocity, V, and the size, R. If R decreases, V must increase. It is also what causes the pizza dough to flatten out when tossed
The “Spin-up” causes the cloud to flatten out Angular momentum keeps stuff from falling straight in. Instead, it spirals down onto a disk. This is the pizza toss effect
At this point we have something that looks like a star surrounded by a disk of gas and dust The protostellar Sun is getting its energy from gravitational collapse, not from fusion like “normal” stars.
The temperature in the protoplanetary disk falls off as you get farther from the protosun Check out planet Formation Temperature Plot on ClassAction website Solar System Characteristics module
The solar nebula is composed mostly of hydrogen and helium The most common things to condense will be hydrides of carbon (CH4…methane), nitrogen (NH3…ammonia) and oxygen (H2O…water). These condense at fairly low temperatures. Elements like silicon and iron condense at higher temperatures.
What is found at different distances from the protosun depends on temperature and abundance
Condensation begins to form dust grains The dust grains are tiny: about the size of particles in smoke. They are also charged with static electricity
The dust grains quickly start sticking together Close to the protosun the grains are exclusively silicon, iron and other heavy elements: “rocky” materials. Farther out there are more grains of “icy” materials than rocky ones. Static electricity also plays an important part in making the grains stick together
Eventually Planetesimals are formed Close to the Sun the planetesimals look like asteroids Far from the Sun the planetesimals are a mix of ice and rock
Planetesimals merge to form protoplanets The larger the planetesimal, the stronger its gravity is. The stronger its gravity, the more it attracts stuff and the more violent the collisions become.
The gas giants form a large core of ice and rock and then grow by sweeping up large amounts of gas
The Solar Nebula Stage Condensation starts and planetesimals begin growing
The Accretion Stage Planetesimals grow bigger by collisions. There may be hundreds of moon sized protoplanets form in the inner solar system. The outer planets have grabbed up the last of the gas
The accretion stage was a violent period with planet smashing collisions
Finally, we have a new star and new planets The new planets at this stage are nothing like the planets we see today. They will evolve over time to become the eight planets we see now
The gas giants were like mini solar systems, forming a system of moons
Finding extra-solar planets Our theory was designed to explain the formation of our solar system. How does it match up with other planetary systems around other stars?
We have seen lots of disks around forming stars confirming some of the nebular theory
Newton’s 3rd Law applies to the Sun and planets If the Sun tugs on Jupiter, keeping it in orbit, then Jupiter tugs on the Sun, making it orbit. The two actually orbit a common point just outside the surface of the Sun Watch ClassAction Extrasolar Planet module Influence of Planets on the Sun animation
The Doppler Effect technique detects the motion of a star caused by a planet Watch ClassAction Extrasolar Planet module Radial Velocity Graph animation
The transit method measures a planet directly if it passes in front of its star The planet will be a dark spot passing across the face of the star. The dimming of the light from the star may be tiny but it is measurable if the planet is large enough.
The Doppler method is the most prolific but it finds large mass planets close to their star Visit http://exoplanet.eu
So what do we do about our solar nebula model? Our model predicted small rocky planets close to the star We are finding large gas giants close to their star! The basic modification is that things move, sometimes they move a lot: Migration theory