CHRIS BUTLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CHRIS BUTLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Illustration of the formation of a proto solar system according to the nebular hypothesis. It is seen here as a red disc, in the centre of the Rosette nebula. This was firstly formulated by the German philosopher Kant in 1755 and was later developed in 1796 by the French mathematician Laplace. In the nebular model the planets condense from a rotating nebula of gas and dust that itself finally contracts into the central Sun. In opposition to the nebular model there are a group of theories known as catastrophic hypotheses in which planetary systems form after a close encounter between two or more stars.
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