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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

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

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

As shown in this picture, while they were forming in the solar nebula, the core of the planets-to-be drew material to themselves from the cloud of gas and dust around them. The bigger planets-to-be were...more

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

Scientists believe that the solar system was formed when a cloud of gas and dust in space was disturbed, maybe by the expl osion of a nearby star (called a supernova). This explosion made waves in space...more

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

The mesosphere of Jupiter is a region of balance between warming and cooling. That essentially means that nothing happens there. Except for diffusion, the atmosphere is still. Upper reaches of the atmosphere,...more

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 is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA