Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Coplanarity of the Solar System & Milky Way
Name: robert t kinner
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1993 - 1999


Question:
Is the disk of our solar system coplanar with the disk of the Milky Way?


Replies:
It's tilted! Something like 30-50 degrees. Somebody else probably knows better than me though.

A Smith


It's actually more like 90 degrees!

The plane of the Solar System is called the ecliptic. The plane that stars _appear_ to rotate in, as seen from a point on the Earth, is called the Celestial equator. The angle between the ecliptic and the Celestial equator is, of course, equal to the angle between the Earth's rotation axis and the Solar System's axis, 23.5 degrees. The Galactic Equator is tilted about 63.5 degrees from the Celestial equator, in the opposite direction of the ecliptic. So why aren't all these rotations coplanar? like one might expect from Conservation of Angular Momentum? We think that when the Solar System was just a rotating, collapsing cloud of gas and dust, a passing star came close enough to change its axis of rotation.

Hawley



Click here to return to the Astronomy Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory