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Lecture10 - Components of the Solar System The Kuiper Belt...

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1 ©2010 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Components of the Solar System The vast majority of the Solar System’s mass resides in the Sun All the planets, asteroids and comets make up less than 1/700 of the mass of the Solar System! The rocky inner planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars) are called terrestrial planets The gaseous outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) are the Jovian planets An asteroid belt separates the inner and outer planets Pluto, once considered a planet, has been reclassified as a dwarf planet Please insert figure 32.1 ©2010 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. The Kuiper Belt Outside the orbit of Neptune lies the Kuiper Belt Located around 40 AU from the Sun Trans Neptunian Objects (TNOs) such as Pluto are found here Many bodies smaller and larger than Pluto are in this region, including Eris and many others ©2010 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Pluto’s Reclassification In 1920, Pluto was discovered and classified as a planet Over the last 10 years, it has become clear that Pluto was only the largest of thousands of bodies orbiting the Sun in the Kuiper Belt Recently, TNOs larger than Pluto have been discovered Seven moons in the Solar System are larger than Pluto A planet must be massive enough: (1) for its gravity to pull it into a roughly spherical shape, and (2) for it to have cleared out the neighborhood of its orbit of comparable mass objects The second part of this definition means the objects lying in the asteroid belt and Kuiper belt are not planets In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet ©2010 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. The Oort Cloud The Solar System is surrounded by a cloud of cometary bodies Located around 50,000 AU from the Sun Gravitational influences from passing stars occasionally send comets into the Solar System Please insert figure 32.3
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2 ©2010 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Rotation and Revolution in the Solar System Because of the conservation of angular momentum, all planets revolve around the Sun in the same direction and in more or less the same plane Mercury’s orbit is tipped by 7 degrees Most of the planets rotate in the same direction Counterclockwise as viewed from above Venus rotates clockwise as viewed from above Uranus’ rotational axis is tipped significantly! Any model of solar system formation must explain all of these oddities! ©2010 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. The Age of the Solar System A number of naturally occurring atoms undergo radioactive decay. That is, the atom splits apart into lower-mass atoms. The time it takes for half of the atoms in a given sample to decay is called the material’s half-life. After a number
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Lecture10 - Components of the Solar System The Kuiper Belt...

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