What’s on : Lectures

On the origin of planets

5 Oct 2009
Start time
7:30 PM
Tempest Anderson Hall
Prof Michael Woolfson
On the origin of planets

Event Information

On the origin of planets
Professor Michael Woolfson, Department of Physics, University of York

The ‘standard model’ of the origin of the Solar System has been the Solar Nebula theory that, from its very introduction, has had severe difficulties. Despite the fact that large numbers of workers have been developing the theory for forty years its difficulties have steadily increased and very recent observations indicate that the theory is quite untenable.
An alternative theory, the Capture Theory, based on a completely different precept, has been developed in York. Various aspects of the theory have been computationally modelled in some detail, which has demonstrated that the basic mechanisms at the heart of the theory are sound. The theory gives a coherent story starting with the birth of stars and ending with the formation of planets, many of which have been detected and observed around distant stars. In particular the development of the Solar System is described in terms of a coherent sequence of causally related events that explains the present structure of the system in some detail.

by Stephen Lusty

Renowned crystallographer, passionate astronomer and past president of YPS, Professor Woolfson presented an exciting alternative explanation to the origin of the planets.  The plausibility of the old Solar Nebula theory had been under considerable pressure because of anomalies requiring increasingly unlikely explanations. A Capture-theory model, developed with a small team at York University, included an assumption that there were previously six and not nine planets in our solar system – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and two other gas giants – and that a collision between the latter was responsible for the formation of the inner rocky planets of the solar system.  This theory also resolved many anomalies, and extensive computer modelling, together with new interpretations of the moon’s topography, have led Professor Woolfson to stand by his theory today – some 45 years after it was first presented.



Michael Woolfson is the author of the following book which is related to the subject of this lecture.
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