The Formation of the Solar System in 6 minutes! (4K “Ultra HD”)

Bryce: This is the story of our Earth’s
formation four-and-a-half billion years ago, and of a little asteroid called Bennu, who’s
also survived until now. We have the team at NASA to thank for bringing
us this video. NASA narrator: The Milky Way, home to billions
of stars, rising and setting over billions of worlds, including our own. In this vast expanse, how did our Sun, the
Earth, and the planets come to be? In recent decades, our understanding of the
solar system’s evolution has greatly improved, but deep questions remain. To answer those questions, astronomers are
preparing to visit someplace very small: asteroid Bennu. A lump of rock and organic material the early
building blocks of the solar system—of Earth, of us. Bennu is a time capsule, and its journey takes
us way, way back, four-and-a-half billion years. The raw ingredients of Bennu, and our solar
system, originated in a stellar nursery—a vast cloud of hydrogen, helium, and dust. Our own sun doesn’t yet exist.

Nearby are hot stars like this one, quickly
burning up its fuel and destroying itself in a colossal explosion called a supernova. The explosion destabilizes our cloud, causing
it to collapse. In the geologic blink of an eye, 100,000 years,
gravity and angular momentum flatten the cloud into an exploding disc. In the center, where molecules crash together
tightest, a protostar revs up to incredible pressures and temperatures. Deep within the disc, clumps of dust not much
larger than a grain of wheat are flash-heated into droplets of molten rock called chondrules. The source of this heat remains a mystery. Chondrules are destined to become the building
blocks of the solar system. Coaxed by gravity and turbulence, the chondrules
clump. They grow into the first asteroids, into mountains,
into planets. The asteroids are rubble piles of rock, metal,
ice, and organics. This large asteroid is the parent body of
Bennu, a protoplanet whose size we can only guess. Closer to the protostar a planet begins to
form. And then, dawn in the solar system.

The protostar undergoes fusion and ignites,
revealing our sun, but the solar system is far from finished. Jupiter most-likely forms near its outer edge. But just 500 million years after the sun ignites,
some believe that it slowly moves inward, its massive gravity ripples the asteroid belt,
disrupting countless asteroids and comets, flinging them toward the sun. They rain down on the inner planets, hammering
and remelting large portions of their crust. Did these impacts also deliver organics in
water, key ingredients for life. Back in the asteroid belt, Bennu’s parent
body is lucky, it survives this period of heavy bombardment. The solar system cools and calms. Jumper and its many moons assume the orbits
that we see today.

Billions of years of quiet follow, more or
less. Then a billion years ago, one theory suggests,
a collision shatters the protoplanet. Some of the debris loosely coalesces into
a new smaller body: Bennu. But Bennu will not stay in place. Dull, non-reflective, it slowly migrates toward
the sun. Solar heating turns its warm side into a glowing
low-intensity thruster. Through millions of years, Bennu’s orbit
gradually tightens until it interacts with Saturn’s gravity, altering its trajectory
and hurling it into the inner solar system. Close encounters with Earth and Venus follow. Their gravitational tugs may have repeatedly
stretched and reformed Bennu, turning it inside-out and pulling off loose material. As a result, it has no satellites of its own,
until now. Today, NASA is sending a spacecraft called
Osiris Rex to explore Bennu and retrieve a sample. Why? Bennu has survived its long journey and settled
into a near-earth orbit, bringing its secrets within our reach. Now it is ready to teach us more about the
solar system’s history, its formation, its evolution, and our own place among the stars.

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