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This is a drawing showing the forming solar system.
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C. Alexander

How the Solar System may have formed from a spinning cloud

Scientists think that the solar system formed out of a cloud of hydrogen and helium molecules, which was spinning.

Because the cloud was spinning, it flattened into a frisbee shape, just like a ball of pizza dough becomes flat when a chef spins it in the air. The planets and the sun started to form after the cloud became a flat disc.

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Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

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How a planet-to-be sweeps up nearby material to be part of itself

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The Co-Formation Theory

The co-formation theory explains the origin of the moon as an object which formed out of the initial cloud of gas and dust at the same time and roughly the same place as the Earth. As shown in this picture,...more

The position of Jupiter when gas changed to ice

The position of the planets in the solar nebula affected how big they became and what they were made of. The blue line in the picture shows where it became so cold that ice began to form. Planets that...more

The Beginning of the Solar System

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A Look at the History of Jupiter's Atmosphere

The giant planets have definitely changed since their formation. But how much remains to be seen. Most of the original air of the giant planets remains in place. (The earth-like planets lost most of their...more

Jupiter's Mesosphere

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An Overview of Jupiter's Atmospheric Structure

As on Earth, the atmosphere of Jupiter consists of a troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere. The troposphere is the region where the visible clouds are to be found. The stratosphere, as...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF