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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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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