Why are all the planets on the same plane?

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Neil McCafferty

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Why are all the planets on the same plane?
« on: 26/09/2011 19:30:03 »
Neil McCafferty asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Any concepts that I have seen on TV of the solar system show the sun with the planets strung along at different orbital distances on a broadly linear plane. Is this the true reflection, or would a three dimensional map of the solar system show the planets are not at all linear to the sun?

with thanks and sincerely,

Neil McCafferty









What do you think?
« Last Edit: 26/09/2011 19:30:03 by _system »

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Offline Kryptid

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Why are all the planets on the same plane?
« Reply #1 on: 27/09/2011 07:10:02 »
They are not all in the same plane; it's just easier to represent that in a diagram.

Orbital inclination varies from planet to planet as measured relative to the Sun's equator:

Mercury: 3.38 degrees
Venus: 3.86 degrees
Earth: 7.155 degrees
Mars: 5.65 degrees
Jupiter: 6.09 degrees
Saturn: 5.51 degrees
Uranus: 6.48 degrees
Neptune: 6.43 degrees

This is especially true of the dwarf planets:

Ceres: 10.585 degrees
Pluto: 11.88 degrees
Eris: 44.187 degrees
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Offline MikeS

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Why are all the planets on the same plane?
« Reply #2 on: 27/09/2011 07:54:56 »
As Supercryptid points out they are not all in exactly the same plane but essentially they are in a similar plane with one exception.

The sun formed from a rotating dust and gas cloud.  What was left went on to become the planets.  Hence they are all in more or less the same plane.