SOLAR SYSTEM

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Summary unit 1 section 1

The Solar System is full of planets, moons, asteroids, comets, minor planets, and many other exciting objects.

What Is The Solar System?

The Solar System is made up of all the planets that orbit our Sun. In addition to planets, the Solar System also consists of moons, comets, asteroids, minor planets, and dust and gas. Everything in the Solar System orbits or revolves around the Sun. Because its powerful gravity attracts all the other objects in the Solar System towards it.

How Did the Solar System form?

This is an important question, and one that is difficult for scientists to understand. The creation of our Solar System took place billions of years. Scientists believe that the Solar System evolved from a giant cloud of dust and gas. They believe that dust and gas began to collapse under the weight of its own gravity. The matter contained began moving in a giant circle. At the center of this spinning cloud, a small star began to form. This star grew larger as it collected more and more of the dust and gas. Far away from the center of the star, there were smaller clumps of dust and gas that were also collapsing. The star in the center ignited forming our Sun, while the smaller clumps became the planets, minor planets, moons, comets, and asteroids.

A Great Storm

Once ignited, the Sun’s powerful solar winds began to blow. These winds pushed the remaining gas and dust out of the Solar System.

With no gas or dust, the planets, minor planets, moons, comets, and asteroids stopped growing. You may have noticed that the four inner planets are much smaller than the four outer planets. Another important difference is that the outer planets are largely made of gas and water, while the inner planets are made up almost entirely of rock and dust. As the outer planets grew larger, their gravity had time to accumulate massive amounts of gas, water, as well as dust.

The Asteroid Belt, The Kuiper Belt, And The Oort Cloud

You have probably heard about the Asteroid Belt. This band of asteroids sits between the orbits of the planets Jupiter and Mars. It is made up of thousands of objects too small to be considered planets. Further out, beyond the orbit of the minor planet Pluto, sits another belt known as the Kuiper Belt. Like the Asteroid Belt, the Kuiper Belt is also made up of thousands, possibly even millions of objects too small to be considered planets. These objects are made out of mostly frozen gas with small amounts of dust. They are often called dirty snowballs. However, you probably know them by their other name… comets.

Planets of the solar system

Ever since the discovery of Pluto in 1930, kids grew up learning about the nine planets of our solar system. That all changed starting in the late 1990s, when astronomers began to argue about whether Pluto was a planet. In a highly controversial decision, the International Astronomical Union ultimately decided in 2006 to call Pluto a “dwarf planet,” reducing the list of “real planets” in our solar system to eight.

Here’s the order of the eight larger planets, starting nearest the sun and working outward through the solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune

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