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

How the Solar System may have formed out of the Primordial Nebula

The solar system contracted, or shrank together, out of a spinning cloud of hydrogen and helium gas. This spinning cloud had a certain amount of momentum, which caused it to flatten, somewhat the way a ball of pizza dough can be made flat by spinning it in the air. As it flattened, the gaseous material was forced to begin condensing into solid form.

These little particles of solid material were soft and sticky, and further clumped together to form larger balls of solid material whenever they touched each other, somewhat the way "silly putty" does. Eventually only a few large clumps of this material remained in the forming solar system, and they became the core of "protoplanets".

For a diagram showing what kind of materials condensed where in the forming solar system, click here.


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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 proto-planet sweeps up nearby material

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

The position of Uranus when gas changed to ice

The position of the planets in the solar nebula greatly affected their 1. size and 2. composition. This is because of the effect of how cold it was in the nebula. 1. The nebula was a lot warmer close to...more

Uranus' Atmospheric Hazes

Besides methane, Uranus' atmosphere contains more sophisticated atmospheric molecules such as ethane gas, acetylene, and diacetylene. All these molecules form layers of haze at different altitudes high...more

Uranus' Mesosphere

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An Overview of Uranus' Atmospheric Structure

As on Earth, the atmosphere of Uranus 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

Altitude Variations of the Belts & Zones

On Uranus, as on Jupiter, the winds in the belts and zones blow first in one direction, then in the opposite direction. Wind blows east in a belt, and west in a zone. The clouds rise up in a belt, and...more

Why Uranus looks like a "bullseye"

The striped cloud bands on Uranus, like Jupiter, are divided into belts and zones. On Uranus the belts and zones are hard to distinquish. The left picture shows the north pole of Uranus. In this picture...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