Nebular Hypothesis

In cosmogony, the nebular hypothesis is the most widely accepted model explaining the formation and evolution of the Solar System. There is evidence that it was first proposed in 1734 by Emanuel Swedenborg. Originally applied only to our own Solar System, this method of planetary system formation is now thought to be at work throughout the universe. The widely accepted modern variant of the nebular hypothesis is Solar Nebular Disk Model (SNDM) or simply Solar Nebular Model.

According to the nebular hypothesis, stars form in massive and dense clouds of molecular hydrogen—giant molecular clouds (GMC). They are gravitationally unstable, and matter coalesces to smaller denser clumps within, which then proceed to collapse and form stars. Star formation is a complex process, which always produces a gaseous protoplanetary disk around the young star. This may give birth to planets in certain circumstances, which are not well known. Thus the formation of planetary systems is thought to be a natural result of star formation. A sun-like star usually takes around 100 million years to form.

The protoplanetary disk is an accretion disk which continues to feed the central star. Initially very hot, the disk later cools in what is known as the T tauri star stage; here, formation of small dust grains made of rocks and ices is possible. The grains may eventually coagulate into kilometer-sized planetesimals. If the disk is massive enough the runaway accretions begin, resulting in the rapid—100,000 to 300,000 years—formation of Moon- to Mars-sized planetary embryos. Near the star, the planetary embryos go through a stage of violent mergers, producing a few terrestrial planets. The last stage takes around 100 million to a billion years.

The formation of giant planets is a more complicated process. It is thought to occur beyond the so-called snow line, where planetary embryos are mainly made of various ices. As a result they are several times more massive than in the inner part of the protoplanetary disk. What follows after the embryo formation is not completely clear. However, some embryos appear to continue to grow and eventually reach 5–10 Earth masses—the threshold value, which is necessary to begin accretion of the hydrogen–helium gas from the disk. The accumulation of gas by the core is initially a slow process, which continues for several million years, but after the forming protoplanet reaches about 30 Earth masses it accelerates and proceeds in a runaway manner. The Jupiter and Saturn–like planets are thought to accumulate the bulk of their mass during only 10,000 years. The accretion stops when the gas is exhausted. The formed planets can migrate over long distances during or after their formation. The ice giants like Uranus and Neptune are thought to be failed cores, which formed too late when the disk had almost disappeared.

Read more about Nebular Hypothesis:  History, Meaning of accretion

Other articles related to "nebular hypothesis, nebular":

Nebular Hypothesis - Meaning of accretion
... However, that meaning should not be confused with the process of accretion forming the planets ... In this context, accretion refers to the process of cooled, solidified grains of dust and ice orbiting the protostar in the protoplanetary disk, colliding and sticking together and gradually growing, up to and including the high-energy collisions between sizable planetesimals ...
History Of Solar System Formation And Evolution Hypotheses - Formation Hypotheses - Reemergence of The Nebular Hypothesis
... Prentice revived the Laplacian nebular model in his Modern Laplacian Theory by suggesting that the angular momentum problem could be resolved by drag created by dust grains in the original disc which ... widely accepted theory of planetary formation—the Solar Nebular Disk Model (SNDM)—can be traced to the works of Soviet astronomer Victor Safronov ... By the early 1980s, the nebular hypothesis in the form of SNDM had come back into favour, led by two major discoveries in astronomy ...

Famous quotes containing the word hypothesis:

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