Topics for Quiz 3


The Solar system in General

The View from Sedna, looking towards the solar system


For this quiz, be very familiar with chapters 7 and 8 in your text.  See also the Power Point presentations on the general properties and formation of the solar system in the Lectures and Links page.

1.        What are General Observed Patterns regarding

·         Orbits?

·         Spin?

·         Plane of Orbit?

2.       Where is most of the Mass in the Solar system?

3.       What is the Rank of the Planets in terms of:

·         Density?

·         Size?

·         Distance from Sun?

4.       What are general differences between the Jovian and Terrestrial Planets in terms of:

·         Composition?

·         Size?

·         Density?

·         Rotation Rate?

·         Distance from Sun?

5.       Which Terrestrial Planets have an atmosphere?

6.       Are there any Planets in the Solar system on which a human could survive without a space suit?

7.       Where are the:

·         Kuiper Belt?

·         Oort cloud?

·         Asteroid Belt?

8.       What are the main differences between objects in the Kuiper Belt and Main Asteroid Belt?

9.    What other “minor planets” like Pluto has recently been discovered?  Why was “Planet ten” so hard to find (hint: was its orbit in the ecliptic?)

10.     Spacecraft missions:

·         What is the difference between a fly by and an orbital mission...give an example of each

·         Why are fly by missions much cheaper?


Formation of the Solar System

1.     What elements and compounds were present in the Solar Nebula?

·         What was the origin of the elements heavier than Hydrogen and Helium?

·         What are the most common elements?  What elements are rare? 

·         What caused different elements and compounds to have different abundances in different parts of the solar nebula?

·         When did the Sun and Planets Form (Accreted most of their mass)?

·         How do we know the age of the oldest objects in the solar system?

·         What do we mean by other words, what are we determining the age of?  The atoms themselves, the Rocks they are typically part of, or the entire object?

2.     What is Condensation? 

·         What Force/Process is responsible for Condensation? 

·         Why did different elements and compounds condense at different places in the solar nebula?

·         List compounds or elements  that condensed at temperatures greater than 1500K, and compounds or elements that condensed at temperatures less than 1500K

·         What is the Frost line?

·         Why are inner planets denser than the Jovian Planets?

·         Why are Volatile elements, such as water, present in the inner solar system?

3.     What is Accretion?

·         How does accretion differ from Condensation? 

·         How does Accretion produce heat?

·         When did the period of rapid Accretion end? 

·         What is the difference between a Planettesimal and a Planet? 

4.       What is the Solar Nebula?

·         What evidence do we have that the Solar Nebula flattened into a disk? 

·         Why did the Solar Nebula Flatten into a Disk?

·         Why didn’t the solar Nebula contract to a much smaller sized disk?

·         Why was the cloud of gas from which the solar nebula formed rotating at all?

5.       Where do planetary (large) moons come from?

6.       Are there major exceptions to the general trends in the solar system? 

7.     What caused these exceptions?

8.     Why is the Kuiper Belt located at the “edge” of the solar system?

9.     What General factors caused the Solar system to have its current number and distribution of Planets?

·         What is the solar Wind?  What role did it play in determining the ultimate fate of the solar system?

·         Why are there no large Planets beyond Neptune?

·         What makes us think that our sun had period of strong solar winds in its infancy.

·         Why did the extra ultra violet produced by the sun help atoms and molecules to condense in the early solar system?

10.    What types of objects in our solar system are least changed from the beginning of the Accretion era?

11.     What is Angular Momentum? 

·         What is it mean to say that Angular Momentum is conserved?

·         Why was it much easier for the solar nebula to collapse perpendicular to the plane of rotation so that it flattened out?

12. What evidence do astronomers have that the collapse of the solar system was triggered by an superova explosion? Hint: what does the short half life of Iodine 129 have to do with it?


 Other Solar Systems

1.                               How are these systems typically different than ours?

( What are general characteristics of the systems we have found so far? )

·         Is this difference due to our technological limits in finding them?

·         What are other possible reasons why the newly discovered solar systems are so different than ours?

·         What would happen to the planets in a solar system where the central star did not have a strong Stellar wind?


Review (from review sheet #2, but fair game for quiz 3)

1.What were Kepler’s three laws? 

2. What were Newton ’s laws of motion?


·        What is centripital acceleration...Who did Newton get that idea from (hint: same Italian). 

·        What does F = ma mean? Would you need to apply a force to accelerate something in empty space? 

·        Explain how Newton ’s third law works...use jumping in the air, firing a cannon ball, or an astronaut pushing off the space shuttle as examples.

·        What was Newton ’s Mountain?  How did it explain the relationship between free fall and orbits? What speed is something moving as it orbits

·        What is acceleration?  Be able to describe examples when you are accelerating and when you are not (don’t forget that you are accelerating when going in a circle at constant speed..Why?)

Newton was able to uses Galileo’s principles of circular motion and Inertia, and his own laws of motion and universal gravitation, to derive general forms of Kepler's laws. “   Note, you don’t have do anything with this..Just know what I’m talking about!

·        What is the law of Universal Gravitation?  How does it relate to the concept of Weight on Earth?

·        What Causes the Tides? How was Galileo wrong about it, but still on the right track?

·        What planet was discovered by applying Newton ’s law of gravitation and his calculus using the orbit of a previously known planet?

·        What is Angular Momentum? 

·        The Earths spin is slowing down due to tidal friction.  How does conservation of Angular momentum explain why the Moon is moving farther away?



Questions to consider (not on quiz 3!)                    

2.                               Have we found any terrestrial sized planets outsider our solar system? 

3.                               What are the Transit photmetry and Doppler methods for detecting other planets? 

·         Are there any examples of planet that can be detected by both methods?

·         Which one will allow us to see Terrestrial sized planets?

·         Which haven’t we confirmed Jovian sized planets at large distances...beyond 10 AU? Hint: What does Kepler’s third law say about the orbital periods of planets that distant?

4.                               What are the limitations of these methods on the size and orbit of the planets we can find?

5.                               How are these systems typically different than ours?

·         Is this difference due to our technological limits in finding them?

·         What are other possible reasons why the newly discovered solar systems are so different than ours?

·         What would happen to the planets in a solar system where the central star did not have a strong Stellar wind?