This drawing shows how forming planets drew gas to themselves.
Click on image for full size
Image from: The New Solar System
How a proto-planet sweeps up nearby material
As shown in this picture, while they were forming in the solar nebula, the nuclei of the planets-to-be (called protoplanets) drew material to themselves from the cloud of gas and dust around them. The bigger protoplanets were able to attract even more gaseous material unto themselves.
Big protoplanets such as Neptune were positioned far out in the original nebula where there was less gas, and so these protoplanets were not able to sweep up as much gas as other giant planets.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
on science education, ranging from evolution
, classroom research
, and the need for science and math literacy
You might also be interested in:
Scientists think that the solar system formed out of a spinning cloud of hydrogen and helium gas. Because the cloud was spinning, it flattened into a frisbee shape, just like a ball of pizza dough becomes...more
This image shows the new Great Dark Spot of Neptune, which was discovered using the Hubble Space Telescope. The image shown here, shows a "hole" in the clouds of Neptune in pink, in the northern hemisphere,...more
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
This image shows some clouds known as "cirrus" clouds, extending for many kilometers across the face of Neptune. These clouds are very high up, for they can be seen to cast shadows on the lower clouds,...more
This image of Neptune uses false colors to show where the smog is. The smog of Neptune can be seen in red along the edge of the image. These hazes of smog are found at very high altitudes, over the clouds...more
Like Jupiter and all the giant planets, Neptune's appearance shows a striped pattern of clouds. Other cloud shapes seen over time include a small dark spot, the "scooter" and the Great Dark Spot. The Great...more
If you had a quiz question in school that asked what year Neptune was discovered, you'd probably choose 1846. But Neptune wasn't discovered the way all the other planets in our solar system were. Astronomers...more
The picture shows places on Jupiter which are hot. Jupiter is a very warm body in space, as shown in the picture, and this warmth is associated with the energy of Jupiter. Neptune has also been found to...more