This is a drawing showing how atmospheres form.
Click on image for full size
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.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games
section of our online store
includes a climate change card game
and the Traveling Nitrogen game
You might also be interested in:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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