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Solar Nebula Theory & Patterns of Planetary Motion

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  • 0:01 Patterns of Motions in…
  • 0:43 Key Points
  • 1:23 Why Things Move the…
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will tie together the solar nebula theory and the patterns of motions of the planets in our solar system and why Venus and Uranus are exceptions in the solar system.

Patterns of Motions in the Solar System

The material from which something develops and the way in which it evolves influences how it acts later on. For example, if a Frisbee was made of stone, it wouldn't fly very far. If it was developed in the shape of a square, it wouldn't fly very well either.

Several other lessons explained for you how our solar system evolved and what it formed from. They also pointed out the important characteristics of our solar system, especially with respect to the motions of the planets within it. In this lesson, you'll put all the pieces of those puzzles together to understand the interplay between the evolution of the solar system and patterns of motions in our solar system.

Key Points

Before we start putting this relatively simple puzzle together, let's review some of the pieces that we'll be trying to arrange with one another.

The solar system is our sun and the celestial objects, like the planets, revolving around it. The solar system formed from the solar nebula, a cloud of interstellar gas and dust that condensed to form the entire solar system, including the sun and planets. The theory that posits that the planets and sun in the solar system formed from the solar nebula is called the solar nebula theory. We know that all the planets revolve around the sun in a counterclockwise direction when viewed from the north, and almost all of them rotate in this direction as well.

Why Things Move the Way They Do

Now the question should be: why? The answer should be relatively straightforward, with a couple of hiccups here and there that I'll explain.

Firstly, let me point out the fact that astronomers believe that when the solar system was forming, it formed in a rotating (key word there) pancake-shaped cloud of gas. The matter in this disk, the matter that later helped form the planets, was all moving in the same direction, like water going down a drain in the tub after you pull the plug.

Secondly, the orbits of the planets are in the same plane because the planets formed in a flat disk of gas. If you spin a few marbles in a plate, sort of like a disk, they're all going to orbit in the same plate.

Thirdly, because the sun and planets formed from the same rotating cloud of gas, they rotate and revolve in the same direction, for the most part.

I say 'for the most part' because other lessons would've made Venus, the second planet from the sun, and Uranus, the second-to-last planet from the sun, the glaring omissions in this respect. Venus rotates clockwise, and Uranus rotates on its side. Why?

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