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Ch 16 (The Origin of the Solar System)

Ch 16 (The Origin of the Solar System) - Chapter 16 The...

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The Origin of the Solar System Chapter 16:
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We study the solar system because: 1) There are more planets in the universe than stars. 2) It is out home.
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In this chapter, we will answer the following four questions. 1) Is our solar system unique? 2) What are the general properties of our solar system? 3) How old is our solar system? 4) How do planets form?
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16-1: The Great Chain of Origins A review of the Origin of Matter The matter the makes up our bodies came into existence within moments of the beginning of the universe. (We have strong evidence that the universe began in an event called the big bang, 14 billion years ago.) Within a few hundred million years after the big bang, matter began to collect and form galaxies that contained billions of stars.
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Stars fuse lighter elements together to create heavier ones. As generation after generation of stars were born and died, they created more and more of the heavier atoms, such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, calcium, and iron. Atoms heavier than iron are created by rapid nuclear reactions that can only occur when a massive star explodes (supernova).
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Our galaxy contains at least 100 billion stars, of which our star is one. The sun formed from a cloud of gas and dust about 5 billion years ago. And the atoms in our bodies were part of that cloud. How your atoms found their way to Earth is the story of this chapter.
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The Origin of Planets Today, astronomers believe that planets form naturally as a byproduct of star formation. Stars form from the contraction of large clouds of gas and dust, and they remain hidden in these dusty clouds until they are born and they blow them away. As these gas and dust clouds rotate (due to the conservation of angular momentum, just about everything in the universe rotates) they form a spinning disk around the protostar. The solar nebula theory states that the planets grew out of this spinning disk of gas and dust.
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The Solar Nebula Hypothesis Basis of modern theory of planet formation. Planets form at the same time from the same cloud as the star. Sun and our solar system formed ~ 5 billion years ago. Planet formation sites observed today as dust disks of T Tauri stars.
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Disks around other Suns We want to know if planets orbiting a star is a common occurrence. A natural question might be, do we see disks around other stars? Yes, disks around young stars is common. For example, visible and radio observations reveal at least 50% of the stars in the Orion nebula have disks around them.
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In fact, astronomers have found two kinds of disks surrounding young stars: 1) dense disks like those around the young stars in Orion where planets might be forming now, & 2) very cold, low density disks around stars such as beta Pictoris. Stars such as beta Pictoris are believed to have completed their formation – they are older than the stars in the Orion nebula and their disks have an inner zone of even lower density. It is speculated that planets may have formed in these low density regions.
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Planets Orbiting Other Suns A planet orbiting another star is called an
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