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How does the Sun’s mass compare with that of the planets?

It is a thousand times more massive than all the planets combined.

Which planet has the highest average surface temperature, and why?

Venus, because of its dense carbon dioxide atmosphere

Which planet, other than Earth, has visible water ice on it?


Which of the following observations indicates that conditions on Mars may have been suitable for life in the past?

There are dried-up riverbeds on Mars.

Which of the following is not an exception to the general patterns of motion in the solar system?

the rings of Saturn

Which of the following is not a characteristic of the inner planets?

They all have substantial atmospheres.

Which of the following is not a characteristic of the outer planets?

They have very few, if any, satellites.

What are the main constituents of the Jovian planets?

hydrogen and helium

Pluto is different from the other outer planets in all of the following ways except which one?

Its surface temperature is very cold.

Where are most of the known asteroids found?

between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter

Which of the following is furthest from the Sun?

a comet in the Oort cloud

Where did the elements heavier than hydrogen and helium come from?

They were produced inside stars.

Why did the solar nebula heat up as it collapsed?

As the cloud shrank, its gravitational potential energy was converted to thermal energy.

Why did the solar nebula flatten into a disk?

It flattened as a natural consequence of collisions between particles in the nebula, changing random motions into more orderly ones.

According to our theory of solar system formation, why do all the planets orbit the Sun in the same direction and in nearly the same plane?

The laws of conservation of energy and conservation of angular momentum ensure that any rotating, collapsing cloud will end up as a spinning disk.

What percentage of the solar nebula’s mass consisted of hydrogen and helium gases?

98 percent

What kind of material in the solar nebula could remain solid at temperatures as high as 1,500 K, such as existed in the inner regions of the nebula?


Which of the following is the origin of almost all the large moons around the Jovian planets?

They were formed by condensation and accretion in a disk of gas around the planet.

Which of the following are relatively unchanged fragments from the early period of planet building in the solar system?

asteroids Quipper belt comets Oort cloud comets all of the above

Based on our current theory of Earth’s formation, the water we drink comes from

comets that impacted Earth.

Which of the following puzzles in the solar system cannot be explained by a giant impact event?

the orbit of Triton in the opposite direction to Neptune’s rotation

The nebular theory of the formation of the solar system successfully predicts all but one of the following. Which one does the theory not predict?

the equal number of terrestrial and Jovian planets (with the exception of Pluto)

The age of the solar system can be established by radioactive dating of

the oldest meteorites.

What do meteorites reveal about the solar system?

They reveal that the age of the solar system is approximately 4.6 billion years. (Note that while it is true that the early solar system consisted mainly of hydrogen and helium gas, meteorites do not tell us this because they are made of rock and metal.)

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