Formation of the Solar System

PART 2 TUTORIAL Formation of the Solar System

The Sun formed when material at the center of a giant rotating cloud of gas and dust, called the Solar nebula, gravitationally pulled together. When this protosun gathered enough material, it became massive enough to exert tremendous pressure on its core. This raised the temperature high enough for nuclear fusion to occur there. This produced the energy necessary for the Sun to begin to shine, or more simply, to give off light and heat to its surroundings. The leftovers of the original nebula or the Sun’s solar nebula provided the material from which the planets of our solar system would form.

Figure 4.5 shows the regions, around the protosun, in which diff erent materials condense.

5. About how far from the sun would you expect temperatures to cool down as low as 150 K or less (see Table 4.4 and Graph 4.1)?

This distance from the Sun is called the frost line.

6. What materials in Table 4.3 could then condense (become solid) on the already formed protoplanets beyond the frost line, creating a second layer of material on these objects?

What common name do we give to these materials when they condense on something (remember, they are beyond the frost-line)?

7. So, where, relative to the Sun, are larger objects found? Where are smaller objects found? Where are no objects found at all?

8. State whether or not you agree with each student and why or why not.

Student 1 The objects forming closer to the Sun will be more massive because they are made of heavier rock and metal, while the objects forming father will be less massive because they will be made partly of ice.

Student 2 No. Rock and metal condensed everywhere past the rock-metal line, and the objects forming beyond the frost line also got a coating of ice so they are more massive.

9. Which materials in Table 4.3 do not condense (do not become solid) anywhere in the solar nebula? Why can’t they?

10. Which planetary objects, the larger or smaller ones, are now likely to collect large amounts of the remaining uncondensed gases from the solar nebula? Give two reasons for your answer. Hint: Keep in mind that temperature is a measure of the energy of molecular motion, so molecules in warmer regions are moving much faster than those in cooler regions.

11. Now describe the smaller objects that have formed. Of what materials are they mostly composed? Where did they form relative to the Sun and to the larger objects? In how many layers (or steps) did they form?

What type of planet that you are familiar with are these

12. Describe the larger objects that have formed. Where did they form relative to the Sun and to the smaller objects? In how many layers (or steps) did they form? What type of planet that you are familiar with are these? 13. Which type of planet is more evolved (has gone through more steps in its formation)?

14. Based on the investigation you have just undertaken, what is the single most important factor in deter-mining what kind of planet will form at a given location?

On what does this factor depend

15. State whether or not you agree with each student and why or why not.

Student 1 The planets farther from the Sun got more massive by collecting a layer of gases because farther out where temperatures are lower, the gases don’t move as fast so they were easier to catch than they would be closer to the Sun.

Student 2 I think the planets farther from the Sun got more massive because the layer ice that formed on them made them massive enough to gravitationally collect gases, while the planets closer of the Sun were not massive enough to do this.

16. What names have we given to smaller objects composed of various materials that condensed from the solar nebula that did not become part of a planet?

Of what would small objects that formed closer to the Sun be made? What do we call them?

Of what would small objects that formed farther from the Sun largely be made? What do we call them

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