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Our Solar System

Artist's Rendition

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Comprising the Sun, planets, comets, asteroids, and other remaining artifacts from its birth, the Solar System's origins continue to intrigue scientists. Current theory suggests that about 4.5 billion years ago, a disk of material condensed out of a swirling, giant cloud of gas and dust. At the center, a hot, dense region from which the nascent star, our Sun, emerged. Tracking the disk's rotation are the orbital paths of the planets as we see them today.

Planet Formation
Planet Formation Movie 
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Comets, "dirty snowballs" of rock, dust and ice, are thought to be relics or "fossils" of that early period in our solar system's evolution. Billions of years later, the story of our Solar System's formation continues to unfold.

From gamma rays to radio waves, studies in each waveband yield unique information about the Solar System. When compared and contrasted, the different observations provide a more complete picture of its workings. Ultimately, scientists hope to understand more precisely how our Sun, the planets, and comets formed out of a giant, rotating gas cloud.



Why is Venus equally hot at day and night?

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Solar Flares

Sun Storms

What causes these violent eruptions on the Sun? Can they be predicted?

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Ancient Relics of the Solar System

What can comets reveal about how our Solar System formed?

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Copyright © 1995: Board of Trustees, University of Illinois

NCSA. Last modified 11/11/95