The formation of the solar system

Research output: Contribution to journalDebate/Note/Editorial


The solar system started to form about 4.56 Gyr ago and despite the long intervening time span, there still exist several clues about its formation. The three major sources for this information are meteorites, the present solar system structure and the planet-forming systems around young stars. In this introduction we give an overview of the current understanding of the solar system formation from all these different research fields. This includes the question of the lifetime of the solar protoplanetary disc, the different stages of planet formation, their duration, and their relative importance. We consider whether meteorite evidence and observations of protoplanetary discs point in the same direction. This will tell us whether our solar system had a typical formation history or an exceptional one. There are also many indications that the solar system formed as part of a star cluster. Here we examine the types of cluster the Sun could have formed in, especially whether its stellar density was at any stage high enough to influence the properties of today's solar system. The likelihood of identifying siblings of the Sun is discussed. Finally, the possible dynamical evolution of the solar system since its formation and its future are considered.


External organisations
  • Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy
  • Institut Universitaire de France
  • University of Cologne
  • Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research
  • Leiden University
  • European Southern Observatory
  • Heidelberg University
  • University of Warwick
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology


  • solar system, planet formation, meteorites
Original languageEnglish
Article number068001
JournalPhysica Scripta
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch