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This is a drawing showing how atmospheres form.
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The Origin of an Atmosphere

There are four ideas for the origin of a planetary atmosphere. Those four ideas are: 1. that the planet-elements of which a planet was made decomposed and released the atmosphere, 2. that the atmosphere was drawn to the planet from the gaseous cloud out of which everything came, 3. that comets hit the planet and brought molecules of air with them, 4. that volcanoes erupted and made an atmosphere from gases inside the planet.

The one that applies to Neptune is hypothesis #2, in which the original material, which Neptune drew out of the primordial nebula stayed, and forms the atmosphere today.


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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...more

An Overview of Neptune's Atmospheric Evolution

Atmospheres of the giant planets have definitely evolved from their formation out of the primitive solar nebula. How much they have evolved remains to be seen, however. Because of their enormous gravity,...more

Neptune's Present Great Dark Spot

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

Neptune's Cirrus Clouds

This image shows some cirrus clouds, extending for many kilometers across the disc of Neptune. These clouds are somewhat high up, for they can be seen to cast shadows on the lower clouddeck, which is 35...more

Neptune's Smog Hazes

This image of Neptune uses false colors to bring out the hazes of smog, which can be seen in red along the limb of Neptune, at the edge of the picture. These hazes of smog are found at very high altitudes,...more

Neptune Clouds, overview

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

Discover Neptune

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 Source of Heat from Within Neptune

In astronomy, it is a usual procedure to calculate the luminosity of a star, and this calculation indicates the energy and the temperature of the star. When the luminosity of the outer planets was calculated,...more

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