From Contraction to Condensation

In 1755, the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) theorized that the solar system had begun as a nebula—a cloud of dust and gas—that slowly rotated, gradually contracting until it became flattened into a spinning disk that variously coalesced into the sun and planets.

Later, in 1796, the French astronomer and mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749-1827) suggested a similar hypothesis, though he thought the planets formed before the sun.

Beta Pictoris is believed to be a dusty disk surrounding a young star. The presence of this disk, imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope, supports the nebular hypothesis.

(Image from Al Schultz, CSC/STScI, and NASA)

Telescopes Mastery

Telescopes Mastery

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