Evolution of Solar System Practice Problems

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Sep 16, 2011

Review the following concepts if needed:

Evolution of Solar System Practice Problems

A good score is 8 correct. Answers are provided at the end.

1. Imagine an alien star system in which Planet X has a mean orbital radius of 100 million (10 8 ) km from Star S and Planet Y has a mean orbital radius of 2 × 10 8 km from Star S (twice the mean orbital radius of Planet X). Suppose that the “year” for Planet X is equal to exactly one-half Earth year (0.500 yr). How long is the “year” for Planet Y?

(a) 2.000 years

(b) 1.414 years

(c) 1.000 year

(d) It can’t be figured out from this information.


2. The imperfections in Ptolemy’s theory were “corrected,” without rejecting the whole theory, by

(a) adding epicycles within epicycles until the theory fit observed facts.

(b) placing the Moon at the center of the Solar System.

(c) ignoring the distant stars.

(d) considering all the planets except Earth to orbit the Sun.


3. The planet Saturn orbits the Earth according to

(a) the geocentric theory.

(b) the heliocentric theory.

(c) Kepler’s theory.

(d) Newton’s theory.


4. Which of the following is not a good argument against the tidal theory?

(a) The planets all orbit the Sun in nearly the same plane.

(b) The planets all orbit the Sun in the same direction.

(c) Stars can never pass so close that they pull matter from each other.

(d) None of the planets have extremely elongated orbits.


5. How likely is it that beings like us exist elsewhere in the Milky Way galaxy?

(a) Not likely

(b) Somewhat likely

(c) Very likely

(d) This is a meaningless question. Either there are such beings or there aren’t.


6. Which of the following statements is implied by Kepler’s laws?

(a) A planet moves fastest in its orbit when it is farthest from the Sun.

(b) Planets far from the Sun take longer to complete their orbits than planets closer to the Sun.

(c) All the planets’ orbits lie in exactly the same plane.

(d) All the planets’ orbits are perfect circles.


7. According to the Big Bang theory of Solar System formation,

(a) The planets formed when the primordial Sun exploded, casting some of its matter into space.

(b) The planets evolved from a rotating cloud of gas and dust.

(c) The planets were formed from matter ejected from a huge solar volcano.

(d) Forget it! There is no Big Bang theory of Solar System formation.


8. According to one theory, Uranus has an axis that is tilted to such a great extent because

(a) the planet was not massive enough for its equator to align itself with the plane of its orbit.

(b) a large primordial object smashed into Uranus and tipped it over.

(c) sooner or later such a tilt will be exhibited by all the planets.

(d) the gravitational effect of Neptune pulled the axis of Uranus out of kilter.


9. For publishing his theories in the sixteenth century, Giordano Bruno was

(a) knighted by the Queen of England.

(b) made the official astronomer of the Vatican.

(c) ignored.

(d) executed.


10. When the earliest models of the Solar System were formulated, the most distant known planet was

(a) Mars.

(b) Jupiter.

(c) Saturn.

(d) Uranus.



1. B

2. A

3. A

4. C

5. D

6. B

7. D

8. B

9. D

10. C

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