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Origin of the Solar System. Spiral Galaxy. Star Birth, Orion Nebula. Beta Pictoris. Solar Nebula. Formation of the Universe. Origin of the Solar System. Historically there have been two competing classes of hypotheses for origin of the solar system. 1. Dualistic or Encounter Hypothesis

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Origin of the Solar System

Spiral Galaxy

Star Birth, Orion Nebula

Beta Pictoris

Solar Nebula


Origin of the Solar System

Historically there have been two competing classes of hypotheses for origin of the solar system.

1. Dualistic or Encounter Hypothesis

Le Clerc (Comte de Buffon) in 1745

T.C. Chamberlain in early 20th century

2. Nebular Hypothesis

Descartes 1644

Immanuel Kant 1755

Laplace 1796


The Beta Pictoris disk appears to be a young planetary system in the making. This image supports the standard model of solar system birth, which supposes that planets accrete from a disk of dust and gas surrounding a young star.

Beta Pictoris is a young star about 20 million years old that is located 63 light years away.

Beta Pictoris

This false-color image of the disk surrounding Beta Pictoris was obtained at the European Southern Observatory by blocking direct starlight and imaging the near-infrared light from the disk.


At the heart of the Orion Nebula lies a complex of molecular clouds where abundant star formation is occurring today.

The clouds are illuminated by a flood of ultraviolet light emitted by four bright stars, collectively called the Trapezium.

More than 150 protoplanetary disks have been found in this mosaic of HST images.

Orion Nebula, giant stellar nursery ~1600 light years away


At the center of each proplyd (protoplanetary disk) is a T Tauri star.

The disks surrounding them are two to eight times the diameter of our solar system.



Our Sun’s fusion only creates He, need red giant for heavier elements.



Elements heavier than Fe created by s- and r-processes in a supernova


Interplanetary Dust Grain

In this scanning electron microscope image, all the minerals, organic compounds, and amorphous materials look the same. However, isotopic analysis reveals that some components of this dust actually solidified in interstellar space long before our Sun and its planets formed.


Chondrules formed from melted dust grains that were flash-heated in the inner solar nebula.


Terrestrial Planets

Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars


Giant Planets

Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune