Search for Planets

Formation of the Solar System

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The confirmation that the Earth was not at the center of the Universe, but that it was orbiting the Sun together with 8 other planets, revolutionised mankind's understanding of the Universe. In the five years up to 2002, the discovery of more than 30 extrasolar planets in our Galaxy constituted a major scientific advance. It ends an era of speculation about the existence of worlds similar to ours orbiting stars other than the Sun.

Understanding how our Solar System formed, and finding out if there are other planets capable of supporting life, are major driving forces for continuing planet search programmes.

How Did Planets and Our Solar System Form?

Our current understanding is that stars and planets form as a result of the collapse of rotating interstellar clouds of gas and dust. A possible mechanism of solar system formation is presented on the illustration.

Click on the thumbnail below to see how it works:


Solar System formation

  

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