Why is our solar system "tipped" about 63° with respect to the plane of our galaxy?

  • Our own solar system is "tipped" by about 63 degrees with respect to the plane of the galaxy. Has it ever been researched or is there any scientific theory which could explain the reason why our solar system and solar systems in general are not "in-line" to the galaxy's plane? What exactly determines the orientation of solar systems?


    I may be in over my head here because I am just a layman, but I found this concept intriguing. Of course to respond in this way may break protocol, in which case I withdraw. If not, then what I find interesting in all this is that the Cambrian Explosion in evolution occurred at about the same time the solar system was captured by the Milky Way. I suspect a connection. Oliver

    @oliver "captured by the Milky Way"? I see no answer other than your own that suggests this, and yours does not provide a proposed date of capture. How then does the Cambrian Explosion coincide with it?

    I do not have much experience in astronomy whatsoever but I would like to postulate a theory anyway. Our solar system has roughly a 63° tilt in respects to the Milky Way's rotational axis correct? We observe that our system is not alone in the tilt is what I think I understand from reading above. What is the angular tilt of Andromeda Galaxy in relation to the Milky Way Galaxy? Is it possible that Andromeda passed within close proximity to our galaxy some 4-5 billion years ago along the edge that our sun was currently in, with gravitational force extracting large pieces of matter from our sun w

    hich later congealed to form the planetary system we live in today? Also not only forming our system with a tilt but also causing the formation of other planetary systems with a varying tilt in relation to its distance from Andromeda and the gravitaional force exerted as Andromeda passed by? Like I said before, I have no astronomical experience and so this theory is not claimed to be nothing more than a simple suggestion.

    @e-sushi Star systems are formed from bubbles of stuff that are swirling every which way, like eddies do in a mountain creek even though the creek as a whole moves downhill. Download and install Universe Sandbox and play some simulations, especially the galactic collisions and other collision scenarios - it will show you how on a small, local scale things may end up spinning in all kinds of directions even when the whole galaxy has an overall direction and spin.

    @Chris Any reason you didn't post your extended comment as an answer? Don't get me wrong, but I (and most other users) prefer voting on answers instead of comments. You might even gain some reputation when doing so.

    @FlorinAndrei Same to you — Any reason you didn't post your extended comment as an answer? Don't get me wrong, but I (and most other users) prefer voting on answers instead of comments. You might even gain some reputation when doing so.

    The angle is actually 60 degrees. The number 63 is the angle between the Galactic plane and celestial equator.

  • astromax

    astromax Correct answer

    8 years ago

    The tilt of our solar system (or any star system) is determined by the net angular momentum of the gas cloud from which it formed. This might be a bit of a vague answer, but over time, the formation of stars and their respective planets is thought to look something like this:



    Formation of a star



    Other influences (net forces: maybe nearby massive objects, or other components of the galaxy) on the tilt of the plane of a stellar system could certainly cause a precession of its axis with time. As an example of this see the precession of a gyroscope.



    It would be really interesting to know the distribution of angles between the plane of the galaxy and the plane of stellar systems, though I'd bet that many of them are simply aligned with the disk itself.


    I don't agree, precession will be clearly negligible compared to the initial effect of turbulence during the first stage of the star formation process.

    This is a fair point - something I had not considered.

    Also, when you say turbulence, can you elaborate? Your turbulence would have to produce a change in the velocity field perpendicular to the plane of the disk. What turbulent mechanisms are you referring to here?

    "Turbulence" refers to turbulent motions in the ISM. If you want to know about the properties of turbulence, it is probably a mixture of compressible and solenoidal modes. If you want to know about the sources of turbulence in the ISM, they are numerous (bipolar outflows, HII regions, SN explosions, differential rotation of the galaxy etc.). If you wonder about turbulence in the ISM, feel free to ask a question so I could elaborate more!

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM