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From Dust to Life:
The Origin and Evolution of Our Solar System
John Chambers & Jacqueline Mitton

Book Description | Reviews
Chapter 1 [in PDF format]


List of Illustrations xi
Preface xv
ONE Cosmic Archaeology 1
A fascination with the past 1
A solar system to explain 3
Real worlds 9
Winding back the clock 12
Putting the pieces together 16
TWO Discovering the Solar System 19
Measuring the solar system 19
From wandering gods to geometrical constructions 22
The Sun takes center stage 25
Laws and order 27
Gravity rules 29
The missing planet 31
Asteroids enter the scene 34
Rocks in space 36
Uranus behaving badly 37
Completing the inventory 40
THREE An Evolving Solar System 43
A changing world 43
A nebulous idea begins to take shape 44
The nebular hypothesis in trouble 48
A chance encounter? 50
Nebular theory resurrected 54
FOUR The Question of Timing 56
Reading the cosmic clock 57
Early estimates: ingenious--but wrong 57
Geology versus physics 58
Radioactivity changes everything 61
Hubble and the age of the universe 63
How radioactive timers work 64
Meteorites hold the key 68
Dating the Sun 71
The age of the universe revisited 73
FIVE Meteorites 75
A dramatic entrance 75
Where do meteorites come from? 76
Irons and stones 80
Identifying the parents 83
Lunar and Martian meteorites 86
A rare and precious resource 87
What meteorites can tell us 88
SIX Cosmic Chemistry 92
Element 43: first a puzzle then a clue 92
An abundance of elements 94
The first elements 96
Cooking in the stellar furnace 98
Building heavier elements 104
Supernovae 105
SEVEN A Star Is Born 108
A child of the Milky Way 108
Where stars are born 110
First steps to a solar system 113
The solar system's birth environment 119
Essential ingredients 121
EIGHT Nursery for Planets 123
An excess of infrared 123
Two kinds of disks 125
Inside the solar nebula 129
Getting the dust to stick 131
The influence of gas 134
How to build planetesimals 135
The demise of the disk 137
NINE Worlds of Rock and Metal 140
Sisters but not twins 140
The era of planetesimals 141
Planetary embryos take over 144
The final four 147
Earth 148
Mercury 153
Venus 158
Mars 161
TEN the Making of the Moon 168
The Moon today 169
What the Moon is made of 170
The Moon's orbit 172
The fission theory 174
The capture hypothesis 175
The coaccretion hypothesis 176
The giant impact hypothesis 177
Encounter with Theia 179
Earth, Moon, and tidal forces 181
Late heavy bombardment 183
ELEVEN Earth, Cradle of Life 186
The Hadean era 186
The tree of life 191
The building blocks of life 193
The rise of oxygen 196
A favorable climate 199
Snowball Earth 202
Future habitability 204
TWELVE Worlds of Gas and Ice 205
Giants of the solar system 205
Building giants by core accretion 211
The disk instability model 214
Spin and tilt 215
Masters of many moons 217
Formation of regular satellites 219
The origin of irregular satellites 220
Rings 221
THIRTEEN What Happened to the Asteroid Belt? 225
The asteroid belt today 225
Ground down by collisions? 226
Emptied by gravity? 229
Asteroid families 231
The missing mantle problem 233
Asteroids revealed as worlds 236
FOURTEEN The Outermost Solar System 242
Where do comets come from? 242
Centaurs 246
Looking beyond Neptune 247
The Kuiper belt 248
Sedna 251
The nature of trans-Neptunian
objects 252
Where have all the Plutos gone? 256
The Nice model 259
FIFTEEN Epilogue: Paradigms, Problems, and Predictions 263
The paradigm: solar system evolution in a nutshell 264
Unsolved puzzles 267
Searching the solar system for answers 268
Other planetary systems 271
Future evolution of the solar system 273
Glossary 277
Sources and Further Reading 291
Index 293

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File created: 4/21/2017

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