There are nine planets in our Solar System. In order, from the Sun outwards, they are:
The Solar System was made from a giant spinning cloud of gas and dust. This cloud collapsed under its own weight to form the Sun, surrounded by the left-over dust and gas. Because the cloud was spinning, this left over stuff was flattened into a disc around the young star. The planets formed from this disc. Scientists are unsure exactly how this happened but somehow the tiny dust grains clumped together to make planets thousands of kilometres across.
There are many clues that the Solar System formed from a giant disc: all of the planets move around the Sun in the same direction and as if they were all on one flat surface – called the “ecliptic plane”. Almost all of the planets spin in the same direction, and the Sun also spins in this direction.
We can see other solar systems being formed in a huge cloud of dust and gas called the Orion Nebula.
Click on the links below to find out more about our Solar System:
Authors: Carolyn Brinkworth and Claire Thomas
Last updated: July 2001