|The words " solar system" refer to the Sun and all of the objects that travel around it. These objects include planets, natural satellites such as the Moon, the asteroid belt, comets, and meteoroids. Our solar system has an elliptical shape and is part of a galaxy known as the Milky Way. The Sun is the center of the solar system. It contains 99.8% of all of the mass in our solar system. Consequently, it exerts a tremendous gravitational pull on planets, satellites, asteroids, comets, and meteoroids. Astronomers believe the solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago. However, they differ in their beliefs about how the system formed. Some believe the whole solar system formed from a single flat cloud of gas, while others believe it formed when a huge object passed near the Sun, pulling a stream of gas off of the Sun. Astronomers theorize the planets then formed from this gas stream.|
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Movie courtesy of NASA/JPL
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