By Jayant V. Narlikar

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Those which solidified at high temperatures became the nearby planets, while those which retained their gaseous form at low temperatures became the more distant planets. The Earth being . one of the nearby planets, therefore has a predominant share of metals while more distant planets like Jupi ter or Saturn are made up largely of helium , hydrogen, etc. By measuring the fraction of radioactive elements in rocks on the Earth as well as in meteorites (tiny pieces of matter moving round in the solar system) scientists estimate that the age of the solar system is around 4,600 million years.

Normally a contracting ball of gas shrinks in size from all directions . However, with the pre-solar cloud , another factor had to be taken into consideration . The cloud was revolving aroun d an axis. This revolution brought into play a further force-the 'centrifugal force' . If you tie a small stone to a string and whirl it round, the stone tends to fly away from the axis of rotation . This tendency to fly away is caused by the centrifugal force. The stone is held back due to the tension in the string which counters the centrifugal force.

Tf $0 1I1t1/_ . eI. Known as Hubble's law, this conclusion dramatically changed our view of the Universe. It led to the idea that the Universe is 'expanding'; the galaxies are moving away from one another much like the dots on a balloon that is inflated. And , of course, there is nothing special about our Galaxy. If we were to look at the Universe from another galaxy, we would notice the same thing : other galaxies would be seen moving away from our new vantage point. 28 ) How far does this expansion extend?

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