The Solar System

How do planets form?
Answered by Science Channel
  • Science Channel

    Science Channel

  1. Several billion years ago, there was only a large revolving mass of particles called the solar nebula. After the formation of the sun, fragments of dust and gas formed a protoplanetary disk, where particles began to collide, forming masses that eventually became planetesimals. These planetesimals became the solid inner planets. The outer gas planets were formed by the action of gases that froze into massive balls. Scientists speculate that strong solar winds emanating from the sun are responsible for the usual outer location of the gas planets; these lighter elements were probably blown away from the inner orbits at an early stage of development of the solar system. In 1995, scientists discovered a gas planet, 51 Pegasi b, which orbited close to its own sun, leading them to develop new theories about how most gas planets came to be located far from their suns. Perhaps most gas planets developed far from their central star, but could then move into an inner orbit at a later time.

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