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Chapter 26 The Solar System
26.1 The Solar System and Its Formation
1) The ecliptic
A) occurs during a solar or lunar eclipse.
B) is the average distance between the Sun and Earth.
C) is the plane of Earth's orbit.
D) refers to the gases from which our solar system formed.
Answer: C
2) Nebular theory pertains to the formation of
A) the solar system.
B) a galaxy.
C) the asteroid belt.
D) the Earth.
Answer: A
3) A cloud of interstellar gas is held together by
A) the gravitational force.
B) infrared radiation.
C) electromagnetism.
D) All of the above.
Answer: A
4) A spinning cloud of interstellar gas tends to
A) disperse.

B) flatten.
C) turn into a sphere.
D) condense.
Answer: B
5) How long does it take for Earth to revolve around the Sun?
A) one day
B) one week
C) one month
D) one year
Answer: D
6) The best evidence that the Sun is a newcomer in the universe is
A) the existence of heavy elements in its composition.
B) its relatively slow rate of spin.
C) its high temperature as revealed by its color.
D) its position in the galaxy.
E) its very existence in spite of its high burning rate.
Answer: A
7) The Sun tends to bloat outward by nuclear fusion, and contract due to
A) gravitation.
B) nuclear fission.
C) mass decrease.
D) its relatively slow spin.

E) reduced gaseous pressures.
Answer: A
8) When a contracting hot ball of stellar gas spins into a disk shape, it cools faster due to
A) increased convection currents.
B) increased radiation transfer.
C) decreased insulation.
D) increased surface area to volume.
E) eddy currents.
Answer: D
9) What is the evidence that the Sun is a relatively new star in the universe?
Answer: Spectroscopic investigations show that the Sun contains traces of heavy elements that
couldn't have been manufactured in its interior. The heavy elements are evidence that the Sun is
formed of material that must have composed older stars that have since exploded. The very
oldest stars show little or no heavy elements. Newer stars were formed from the ashes of older
10) Distinguish between a star and a planet. Which glows, or do they both glow?
Answer: A star is a luminous astronomical body fired by thermonuclear fusion in its core. A
planet is an astronomical body smaller than a star, which is not powered by nuclear fusion in its
core. All bodies with any temperature glow. Because of a star's relatively high temperature, its
glow is in and beyond the visible range of frequencies, whereas the glow of a planet is in the
26.2 The Sun
1) In what region of the Sun is solar energy generated?
A) The outer surface
B) The inner surface

C) The mid-interior
D) The inner core.
Answer: D
2) About how deep is the photosphere?
A) 300 meters
B) 500 meters
C) 300 km
D) 500 km
Answer: D
3) What aspect of the Sun's behavior wraps and distorts the solar magnetic field?
A) The differential spin between the equatorial and polar regions
B) Sunspot activity due to differential heat dispersion
C) Plasma fluxes within the core
D) The cycle of the reversal of the magnetic poles
Answer: A
4) In what region of the Sun are most of X-rays generated?
A) The inner core
B) The photosphere
C) The chronosphere
D) The corona
Answer: D
5) Each second, the burning Sun's mass

A) decreases.
B) increases.
C) remains unchanged.
Answer: A
6) The solar wind blows in a direction
A) away from the Sun.
B) toward the Sun.
C) coplanar to the plane of the solar system
D) primarily along the Sun's polar axis
Answer: A
7) Evidence of the solar wind on Earth is the
A) meteor showers in the upper atmosphere.
B) solar sunspots.
C) preponderance of hurricanes at lower latitudes.
D) higher ocean tides in winter.
E) Aurora Borealis.
Answer: E
8) The age of the Sun is about
A) 7000 years.
B) 5.5 million years.
C) 5.5 billion years.
D) 5.5 trillion years.

E) more than 5.5 trillion years
Answer: C
9) Consider a huge rotating cloud of particles in space that gravitate together to form an
increasingly dense ball. As the cloud shrinks in size, it
A) rotates slower.
B) rotates faster.
C) rotates at the same rate.
Answer: B
26.3 The Inner Planets
1) With daytime temperatures that can reach 430°C, why is nighttime on Mercury so cold?
A) Because the year is so short, there isn't enough time for the heat to build up in the equatorial
B) With very little atmosphere, heat is quickly lost back into space.
C) The weak gravitational field doesn't retain the daytime's heat.
D) The solar winds quickly dissipate all heat on the planet's dark side.
Answer: B
2) Pretend you are on a morning time mission on the surface of Venus. When looking out the
spacepod window you are likely to see
A) the Sun rising in the West.
B) the Sun rising in the East.
C) fierce windstorms everywhere you look.
D) thick and still smog-like cloud cover.
Answer: D

3) Venus and Earth started out with roughly the same amount of water. While Earth still has
water in abundance, all of Venus' was lost. Where did it go?
A) It chemically combined with CO2. to form H2CO3.
B) Ultraviolet rays split the hydrogen from the oxygen components, and the hydrogen escaped
into space.
C) It all evaporated into space due to the intense daytime heat of 470°C.
D) Scientists are still trying to determine this.
Answer: B
4) Temperature differences between nighttime and daytime on Earth are relatively small due to
A) polar regions absorbing most solar energy.
B) Earth being 70% water.
C) Earth's relatively high daily spin rate and shortness of nighttime.
D) seasonal fluctuations and Earths magnetic field.
Answer: C
5) The carbon dioxide cycle is important to Earth because it
A) helps sustain the planet's plant base.
B) has been recognized by the Nobel Prize award committee.
C) and the oceans are critical in moderating and regulating the Earth's temperatures.
D) prevents the gradual buildup of oxygen, which would eventually lead to a combustible
Answer: C
6) How do the wind speeds of the Martian atmosphere compare with those of Earth?
A) About the same as Earth's

B) About one tenth of Earth's
C) About 50% of Earth's
D) About ten times more than Earth's
Answer: D
7) Why is Mars' greenhouse effect negligible compared to that of Earth's?
A) Its mass is only one-ninth of Earth's.
B) Greenhouse gas emissions were greatly curtailed according to the International Mars
Greenhouse Gas Reduction Treaty of 2003.
C) The Martian atmosphere is much thinner and retains little heat.
D) Martian carbon dioxide contains a rare isotope with little ability to trap heat.
Answer: C
8) In what region of Mars is microscopic life most likely to exist?
A) At the poles, where ice caps may harbor microorganisms.
B) At the equator, where temperatures are most moderate.
C) Deep within the planet's core.
D) Beneath the planet's surface, where melting water may pool.
Answer: D
9) No greenhouse effect occurs on Mercury because of no
A) daily spin.
B) atmosphere.
C) relatively cool regions.
D) plant life.

E) terrestrial radiation.
Answer: B
10) The planet with a mass most like Earth's is
A) Mercury.
B) Venus.
C) Mars.
D) Saturn.
E) Neptune.
Answer: B
11) The percentage of the Earth's surface covered by ocean is about
A) 50%.
B) 60%.
C) 70%.
D) 80%.
E) 85%.
Answer: C
12) The predominant gas in the atmosphere of Earth is
A) oxygen.
B) nitrogen.
C) water vapor.
D) carbon dioxide.
E) methane.

Answer: B
13) The predominant gas in the atmosphere of Venus is
A) oxygen.
B) nitrogen.
C) water vapor.
D) carbon dioxide.
E) methane.
Answer: D
14) The predominant gas in the atmosphere of Mars is
A) oxygen.
B) nitrogen.
C) water vapor.
D) carbon dioxide.
E) methane.
Answer: D
26.4 The Outer Planets
1) Why is Jupiter the largest planet in the solar system?
A) Because that's just the way it happened.
B) Being the oldest planetary core, it had more time than the other planets to accumulate enough
gas around itself before solar winds blew interplanetary dust away.
C) Due to a massive collision with another protoplanet
D) Because of its distance from the Sun, the gravitational attraction between it and the Sun is
perfectly balanced so as to create a density that results in the largest size of any planet.

Answer: B
2) What is the cause of Jupiter's slight flattening, which results in an equatorial diameter 6%
greater than its polar diameter?
A) Its rapid spin cycle
B) Its massive gravitational pull
C) Nuclear fission within its core
D) Its frequent reversal of its magnetic poles
Answer: A
3) of Jupiter's atmosphere?
A) Hydrogen
B) Helium
C) Methane
D) Ammonia
Answer: A
4) How much greater is the atmospheric pressure of Jupiter than Earth's? More than
A) ten times.
B) one hundred times.
C) ten thousand times.
D) a million times.
Answer: D
5) What constitutes over half of Jupiter's volume?
A) Oceans of liquid hydrogen

B) Oceans of liquid methane
C) Its rocky solid core
D) The massive Mons Majora Range
Answer: A
6) What is the cause of Jupiter's extremely high-energy radiation belts?
A) An enormous magnetic field that captures high energy particles.
B) The capture of a high number of metallic asteroids.
C) Tidal forces due to the interaction between Jupiter and its moons.
D) The remnants of a massive collision between Jupiter and another large body.
Answer: A
7) Which body in the solar system has the highest level of volcanic activity?
A) Jupiter
B) Earth
C) Mars
D) Io
Answer: D
8) On which body (other than Earth) is life in our solar system most likely to be found?
A) Mars
B) Venus
C) Europa
D) Scientific evidence suggests that life elsewhere in our solar system is not possible.
Answer: C

9) What makes Europa the most likely place extraterrestrial life will be found in our solar
A) It has an ocean of liquid water, which is warmed by tidal force interaction with Jupiter, and
may house underwater volcanic thermal vents.
B) It has an ocean of liquid water, and there is increasing evidence of phytoplankton activity,
particularly as shown by ongoing spectral analysis.
C) It has a hydrogen ocean and moderate levels of oxygen in its atmosphere, which is gradually
producing water through frequent lighting strikes.
D) Actually, Io is the most likely place to find life, due to its high level of volcanic activity.
Answer: A
10) Saturn's rings are composed of?
A) chunks of ice and rock.
B) methane gas.
C) hydrogen.
D) old satellites and other space junk lost from Earth's orbit and other space missions.
Answer: A
11) Where did Saturn's rings likely come from?
A) Either a moon that never formed, or a moon destroyed by tidal forces
B) The decay of radioactive particles in the outer fringes of Saturn's upper atmosphere
C) Volcanic activity on its surface ejecting matter into space
D) The gravitational capture of micro-asteroids
Answer: A

12) The materials that compose most of Titan are completely different than those that compose
Earth. Therefore, what were scientist surprised to see from space-probe images in a 2005
A) Some indications that an ancient civilization may have inhabited Titan approximately
500,000 years ago
B) A landscape similar to Earth's
C) An utterly alien landscape, unlike anything seen on Earth
D) The image of a man's face on an equatorial mountain range.
Answer: B
13) What aspect of Titan may hold clues as to what Earth was like before life arose here?
A) Its intense volcanic activity
B) Its expansive liquid oceans
C) The rate of radioactive decay of its inner core
D) An intriguing soup of organic molecules
Answer: D
14) What is the likely cause of the 98° tilt of Uranus's axis?
A) A collision with a large body early in the solar system's evolution
B) Distorted magnetic poles due to its large molten iron core
C) Fluid wave dynamics due to its large molten core
D) Neptune's effect on Uranus' gravitational field
Answer: A
15) Like Jupiter and Saturn, Neptune emits about 2.5 times as much heat energy as it receives
from the Sun, although calculations show it should have already lost all of its original heat. What
is the most likely explanation?

A) Unlike Uranus, it is still contracting.
B) Radioactive decay has kicked into overdrive, with runaway reactions taking place.
C) The basis for these calculations is currently being questioned by a new generation of
D) There are gravitational anomalies taking place, which may hold some clue as to where the
heat may be coming from.
E) Uranus' gravity is creating a 'slingshot' effect, catapulting solar winds into Neptune's
atmosphere in the form of as of yet undetected radiation.
Answer: A
16) If one had the opportunity to walk on Triton, Neptune's largest moon, what would you
observe the geysers to be spewing?
A) Liquid nitrogen
B) Liquid hydrogen
C) Liquid oxygen
D) Liquid water
Answer: A
17) Compared to your weight on Earth, your weight on Jupiter would be about
A) 2 times.
B) 3 times.
C) 100 times.
D) 300 times.
E) 3000 times.
Answer: B

18) Compared to the density of water, the density of Saturn is
A) less.
B) more.
C) about the same.
Answer: A
19) The planet that is most tipped to its orbital plane is
A) Mars.
B) Jupiter.
C) Saturn.
D) Uranus.
E) Neptune.
Answer: D
20) The parts of Saturn's rings with the greatest rotational speed are the
A) inner parts.
B) outer parts.
C) Neither, for all parts of Saturn's rings rotate equally.
Answer: A
21) Neptune was discovered by irregularities in the orbit of
A) Jupiter.
B) Saturn.
C) Uranus.
D) Pluto.

E) Earth.
Answer: C
26.5 Earth's Moon
1) Is the rate of Earth's rotation increasing or decreasing?
A) It is increasing
B) It is decreasing
C) It is remaining relatively steady.
D) It is increasing and decreasing in cyclic fashion.
Answer: B
2) Which explanation best describes why Earth observers always see the same face of the moon?
A) The Moon's rate of spin matches the rate at which the Moon revolves around Earth.
B) The Moon does not rotate as it circles Earth.
C) We tend only to observe the Moon at night, not during the day.
D) Earth and Moon are partially gravity locked.
Answer: A
3) Why should one not stare at the Sun during a partial eclipse?
A) Because, whether there is an eclipse or not, the Sun's intense radiation can easily damage our
B) Because the eclipse event itself creates a lensing effect, which greatly magnifies and
intensifies the Suns rays.
C) Because Sunspots, which are excited by the eclipse event, can easily erupt during the eclipse.
D) Because Ultraviolet radiation is intensified during the event.
E) Because coronas and corneas are always a bad mix.

Answer: A
4) Why is the Moon still visible during a full lunar eclipse?
A) Earth's atmosphere acts as a lens that refracts light into the shadowed region.
B) There is a minor component of phosphorescent minerals distributed fairly evenly on the lunar
C) The Moon's thin atmosphere acts as a mirror, reflecting light being cast from neighboring
D) Background microwave radiation becomes excited during the lunar eclipse, and shifts
towards visual light, which then slightly illuminates the eclipsed moon.
Answer: A
5) The core of the Moon is
A) solid.
B) liquid.
C) gaseous.
D) Not enough information is known for an answer.
Answer: A
6) The Earth rotates about its axis once per 24 hours, while the Moon rotates about its axis once
A) 24 hours also.
B) half month.
C) month.
D) year.
E) none of these

Answer: C
7) The fact that one side of the Moon always faces Earth is evidence that while revolving about
the Earth it
A) does not rotate about its axis.
B) rotates about its axis.
Answer: B
8) The gravity lock of the Moon to Earth is similar to the action of a
A) tidal wave.
B) giant pendulum.
C) master key.
D) magnetic compass.
E) spinning top.
Answer: D
9) The reason that the Moon takes on a crescent shape each month has to do with the
A) Earth's shadow.
B) Sun's position.
C) both of these
D) neither of these
Answer: B
10) When the Moon assumes its characteristic thin crescent shape, the position of the Sun is
A) almost directly behind the Earth, so Earth is between the Sun and the Moon.
B) almost directly in back of the Moon.

C) at right angles to the line between the Moon and Earth.
Answer: B
11) When we see a half-moon, the position of the Sun is
A) almost directly behind the Moon.
B) almost directly behind the Earth.
C) at right angles to a line from Earth to the Moon.
D) about 45° from a line from Earth to the Moon.
Answer: C
12) When the alignment of the Sun, the Moon, and Earth produce a solar eclipse, the body
between the other two is the
A) Sun.
B) Moon.
C) Earth.
Answer: B
13) When the alignment of the Sun, the Moon, and Earth produce a lunar eclipse, the body that is
in between the other two is the
A) Sun.
B) Moon.
C) Earth.
Answer: C
14) When the Sun passes between the Moon and the Earth, we have
A) a solar eclipse.
B) a lunar eclipse.

C) met our end.
Answer: C
15) The reason we don't have solar and lunar eclipses monthly is because of the
A) relatively close distance of the Moon and Earth.
B) relatively long distance to the Sun.
C) tapering of the Sun's rays.
D) different orbital planes for Earth and the Moon.
E) 23° tilt of the Earth's axis.
Answer: D
16) Only one side of the Moon faces Earth. Is this because the Moon spins about its axis, or
doesn't spin about its axis? Defend your answer.
Answer: The Moon does indeed spin about its axis, just as the Earth spins about its axis. The
difference is in rates. The Earth spins once each day while the Moon spins once each month. The
reason the same side of the Moon faces Earth is because its monthly spin coincides with its
monthly revolution about the Earth. Both its spin rate and revolution rate are the same.
17) Distinguish between a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse, and the reasons for each.
Answer: Eclipses occur with alignment of the Sun, Moon, and Earth. Both the Earth and Moon
cast shadows into space due to illumination by the Sun. When the shadow of the Moon is
incident on the Earth, observers in the shadow region witness a solar eclipse. When the shadow
of the Earth is incident on the Moon, Earth observers witness a lunar eclipse.
26.6 Failed Planet Formation
1) About how many tons of meteorites strike the Earth on a daily basis?
A) 20 tons
B) 200 tons

C) 2,000 tons
D) 20,000 tons
Answer: B
2) At about what frequency is Earth struck by a meteorite large enough (about 10 km in
diameter) to cause mass extinctions?
A) About every 1 million years
B) About every 10 million years
C) About every 100 million years
D) This has yet to occur on Earth
Answer: C
3) Between which planets is the asteroid belt found?
A) Between Mars and Jupiter
B) Between Earth and Mars
C) Between Earth and Venus
D) Between Jupiter and Neptune
Answer: A
4) Why is the Kuiper belt considered to be a zone of failed planet formation?
A) The dwarf planets found therein have yet to fully accrete all of the material in their orbital
B) There is simply not enough material within the dwarf planet's orbital paths for any of them to
ever add up to full planetary status.
C) Because none of the dwarf planets are massive enough to maintain an atmosphere.
D) Both A and B are reasonable.

Answer: D
5) For what reason was Pluto demoted from full planetary status in 2006?
A) Because of objects as large or larger than Pluto in the Kuiper belt
B) Because Pluto resides outside of the zone that can truly be described as the solar system
C) Because Pluto was discovered to be a twin planet system
D) Because according to the standard definition, no planet can be smaller than the Earth's moon
Answer: A
6) Why do comet's tails always point away from the Sun?
A) Because of solar wind.
B) Because the inner planets cause the ice and other volatile materials to be pulled towards their
C) Because of the comet's interaction with dark matter.
D) Because when they move away from the Sun they begin to lose inertia.
Answer: A
7) Asteroids orbit the
A) Sun.
B) Earth.
C) Moon.
D) all of these
E) none of these
Answer: A
8) Most meteors seen as shooting stars are about the size of

A) grains of sand.
B) baseballs.
C) small buildings.
D) very large buildings.
E) small continents.
Answer: A
9) A small rock in interplanetary space is called a
A) meteor.
B) meteoroid.
C) meteorite.
Answer: B
10) In a museum collection you can likely see a
A) meteoroid but not a meteorite.
B) meteor but not a meteoroid.
C) meteorite but not a meteoroid.
Answer: C
11) Comets orbit about the
A) Sun.
B) Moon.
C) Earth.
D) all of these
E) none of these

Answer: A
12) The general direction of a comet's tail is
A) toward the Sun.
B) away from the Sun.
C) behind the comet's direction of motion.
Answer: B
13) The consequences of a comet's tail sweeping across the Earth would be
A) a meteor shower.
B) likely catastrophic.
C) like an enhanced Aurora Borealis worldwide.
D) quite unpredictable.
Answer: A
14) With each pass of a comet about the Sun, its mass
A) is appreciably reduced.
B) remains virtually unchanged.
C) actually increases.
Answer: A
15) Distinguish between an asteroid, a meteoroid, and a comet.
Answer: An asteroid is a small, rocky, planetlike fragment that orbits the Sun. Many occur in the
so-called asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. A meteoroid is an even smaller
rock in interplanetary space. A comet is a body composed of ice and dust that orbits the Sun,
usually in a very eccentric orbit, and which casts a luminous tail produced by solar radiation
pressure when it is close to the Sun.

16) Why do the tails of comets point away from the Sun?
Answer: The gases ejected by a comet are pushed by radiation pressure from the Sun. Just as a
candle flame can be blown in the direction of wind, the comet tail is blown by the solar wind,
made up of high-speed protons and other particles.

Test Bank for Conceptual Physical Science
Paul Hewitt, John Suchocki, Leslie Hewitt
9780321752932, 9780134060491

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