Last modified on April 9, 2019, at 16:11

Kant-Laplace nebular hypothesis

The Kant-Laplace nebular hypothesis (sometimes referred to also as 'theory') makes an attempt to explain the origin and development of the Solar system within the framework of naturalism. In 1775, the famous German Philosopher and forerunner of evolutionism, Immanuel Kant,[1] although highly versed in neither physics nor mathematics,[2] anonymously published his views on origin of Earth, later coined as nebular hypothesis. There in he advanced his belief that hard particles of matter collided with one another by gravitational attraction, and generated heat and rotation in this process.[3] Kant’s central idea that the solar system began as a cloud of dispersed particles was further developed and articulated by French astronomer Pierre-Simon Laplace in his 1796 book Système du monde ("The System of the World"). In his modification, he let the planets to be formed before the Sun. Although first the telescopic discovery of 'gas nebulas' in space by the great English observational astronomer William Hershel was interpreted as persuasive evidence for the Kant-Laplace nebular hypothesis,[4] later it was effectively falsified by discoveries related to the Uranus.[1] This planet is tilted on its side in such a way, that its axis lies nearly in level with its path around the sun.[5][6] Uranus spins clockwise, or in a retrograde fashion, about its north pole, which is opposite to the prograde spin of Earth and most of the other planets.[7] This makes assumptions on the common direction of rotational motion of all planets coming from parental spinning disk hardly maintainable.[note 1] Hypothesis was also criticised by British physicist James Clerk Maxwell [9] and British mathematician and astrophysicist James Jeans.[10] Maxwell was awarded the Adams prize in Cambridge for his outstanding 1859 essay "On the Stability of Saturn's Rings", where he i.a. mathematically disproved the nebular hypothesis of his time which stated that the solar system was formed through the condensation of a purely gaseous nebula without any solid particles present.[9] Jeans calculated how massive a cloud must be so that gravity can overcome the tendency for gas to expand and found out that no star could have formed this way.[10]

Kant’s cosmology was just an introit, an introduction to his anthropology that was at center of his attention.[1] Jonathan Sarfati points out that for materialistic evolutionists who reject a Creator a priori, the failed nebular hypothesis is still the leading candidate to fulfill their need to come up with another explanation than one revealed in the Genesis.[10] The theory was part of discussion in controversy over the Age of the Earth where initial temperature, temperature gradient, and heat loss played an important role. Early in the 20th century the hypothesis was succeeded with a newer idea coming from T.C. Chamberlin who replaced the material for accumulation by cold, solid particles and rocks that he called ‘planetesimals’.[11][12] The outer giant planets, Uranus and Neptune, pose a serious challenge to naturalistic theories of planet formation. They exist in a region of the solar system where long dynamical timescales and a low primordial density of material would have conspired to make the formation of such large bodies very difficult.[13] According to journal Astronomy Magazine (2000), bodies orbited so slowly in the outer parts of the Sun's protoplanetary disk that the slow process of gravitational accretion would need more than the [evolutionary] age of the solar system to form bodies with 14.5 and 17.1 times the mass of earth.[14]

Brief description

The version of this theory from 1923 can be summarized as follows:[15]

Under the nebular hypothesis, the whole Solar system originally consisted of nebular cloud of dust and very thin gases in the spherical shape. The radius of this hot ball exceeded the distance between the center of present-day Sun and orbit of Neptune. By means of mutual gravitational attraction, the dispersed particles have been accreted thus part of them coalesced to form a core around which the remaining ones began a rotational motion from west to east associated with the formation of spheroid flattened on both poles. At the same time, the primordial solar nebula advanced through space in the same direction as the present-day Sun and radiated vast volumes of heat causing its own cooling and contracting in this process. The contraction speeded up the rotational motion resulting in even bigger flattening on the poles and accretion of matter at equatorial plane. On the contrary, rotation with such great rapidity developed strong centrifugal force that has gradually overcome the gravitational attraction. This led to the successive throwing off the outermost matter from equatorial disk in the form of rings which, having heterogeneously diffused materials in line with their densities reassembled as spheres. This process created Neptune, and, after him, remaining planets successively originated the same way, keeping revolving in concentric orbits, in the same direction and almost on the same plane as primordial parental nebular disk. The theory assumes that small asteroids between inner and outer planets came most likely from separated rings that disintegrated into multiple chunks. Finally, the residual core of the ancestral solar nebula condensed to a degree that rendered further divisions of material rings impossible; it remained hot and gaseous to present day – this is our Sun.

Furthermore, Kant-Laplace theory maintains that at the time of separation from ancestral solar nebula, our Earth was a hot molten gaseous sphere. This ball again, by virtue of centrifugal force, ejected a ring that rolled up into another sphere thus forming Earth’s Moon. By means of radiating energy into surrounding cold space, the Earth gradually cooled and contracted more and more thus turning into some kind of lava, and, at the end, thickened at the surface into solid crust covering hot Earth’s interior until the present day. On the cooling Earth’s surface, hot vapors and gases condensed into water, and atmosphere also originated as by product of this process.


  1. Previously Buffon has suggested that the curious fact that the by-then-known planets all move "from west to east" and their orbits all lie within the plane of the ecliptic should be interpreted as "confirmation" of his hypothesis that a comet inveted by him had detached pieces of the sun, sending these fragments into planetary orbits. His theory of the origin of the solar system was explicitly meant to replace Newton's view that God had imparted inertial motion to the planets.[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Jozef Rohacek (1936). Evolucionizmus vo svetle pravdy alebo čo má každý vzdelaný človek vedieť o evolucionizme (Evolutionism in the light of truth or what should every literate person know about evolutionism) (in Slovak). Bratislava, now Slovakia: Svetlo, Library of Blue Cross, 9–10, 48–9. “Kantova evolučná theoria vo svetle Biblie. ... Ale už aj pri týchto vedeckých poznatkoch badať veci, ktoré nedovoľujú len tak smele usudzovať z niekoľkých známych faktov na neznáme, jako to vidíme aj u Uranových mesiacov. Človek z piatich, šiestich alebo neviem z koľkých príkladov usudzuje: Všetky nebeské telesá našej slnečnej sústavy točia sa od západu na východ, a už je aj zákon hotový, len keď tu razom zbadá, že Uranove mesiace sa vymykajú zpod toho pravidla a točia sa opačným smerom.” 
  2. Kant-Laplace nebular hypothesis. Retrieved on 12 July 2015.
  3. Origin of the Earth: The Gaseous Theory Of Kant. (31 July 2013). Retrieved on 18 June 2015. “The famous German Philosopher, Immanuel Kant who anonymously published his views in 1755 was the real profounder of the nebular hypothesis. Kant introduced the Newtonian law of gravitation in his theory. He believed that the hard particles of supernaturally created matter collided with one another by gravitational attraction, and generated heat and rotation in this process. In this way the original static and cold matter was converted into a nebula (cast hot gaseous mass) rotating with such great rapidity that strong centrifugal force was created about equatorial plane. This led to the throwing off of successive gings of matter. The rings condensed into planets. What remained of the original nebula became the sun. The planets underwent similar spinning and threw off rings, which became their satellites.”
  4. E.J. Larson (2006). Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory. New York: Modern Library, 33–34. ISBN 0-8129-6849-2. 
  5. Facts About Uranus. Retrieved on July 12, 2015.
  6. Solar System Exploration: Uranus and Moons. Retrieved on July 12, 2015.
  7. Uranus. Retrieved on July 12, 2015. “Uranus The planet is estimated to rotate about every 17 hours around an unusual axis that is almost parallel to the ecliptic; from Earth it appears to spin on its side. Because Uranus's spin axis is not perfectly parallel to the ecliptic, one of its poles is directed above the eclipticand the other below it. (The terms above and below refer to the same sides of the ecliptic as Earth's North and South poles, respectively.) According to international convention, the north pole of a planet is defined as the pole that is above the ecliptic regardless of the direction in which the planet is spinning. In terms of this definition,Uranus spins clockwise, or in a retrograde fashion, about its north pole, which is opposite to the prograde spin of Earth and most of the other planets. When Voyager 2 flew by Uranus in 1986, the north pole was in darkness, and the Sun was almost directly overhead at the south pole. In 42 years, or one-half the Uranian year, the Sun will havemoved to a position nearly overhead at the north pole. The prevailing theory is that the severe tilt arose during thefinal stages of planetary accretion when bodies comparable in size to the present planets collided in a series of violent events that knocked Uranus on its side. An alternate theory is that a Mars-sized moon, orbiting Uranus in a direction opposite to the planet's spin, eventually crashed into the planet and knocked it on its side. Uranus's rotation period of 17.24 hours was inferred when Voyager 2 detected radio wave emissions with thatperiod coming from charged particles trapped in the planet's magnetic field. Subsequent direct measurements ofthe field showed that it is tilted at an angle of 58.6° relative to the rotation axis and that it turns with the same 17.24-hour period.”
  8. Rhoda Rappaport (1997). When Geologists Where Historians, 1665-1750. Cornell University Press, 242. ISBN 978-0801-433863. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 James Clerk Maxwell Revolutionary Contributions to Electromagnetism and the Kinetic Theory of Gases. Retrieved on 12 July 2015. “Astrophysics of Gaseous Nebulae: Maxwell published in 1859 his outstanding essay, On the Stability of Saturn's Rings, in which he concluded that Saturn rings could not be completely solid or fluid. Maxwell showed that the rings' stability could be achieved only on the condition that the rings consisted a large number of small solid particles. In this essay he also disproved mathematically the nebular hypothesis of his time which stated that the solar system was formed through the condensation of a purely gaseous nebula without any solid particles present. For this, Maxwell was awarded the Adams prize the same year in Cambridge.”
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Jonathan Sarfati. Solar system origin: Nebular hypothesis. CMI. Retrieved on 18 June 2015. “evolutionists reject a Creator a priori, so need to come up with another explanation. The leading candidate is called the nebular hypothesis.”
  11. John Valley (February 2013). The Age of the Earth. Retrieved on 12 July 2015. “The discussion at that time was far-reaching, and included Laplace’s solar nebula hypothesis as opposed to the newer idea of planetesimals, hot versus cold accretion of Earth, advective heat transfer in the mantle, the source of heat in the Sun, and the first habitats for life on Earth.”
  12. Tas Walker. Western culture and the age of the earth; Review of The Dating Game: One Man’s Search for the Age of the Earth by Cherry Lewis, Cambridge University Press, 2000. CMI. Retrieved on 13 June 2015. “Remember that before anyone can calculate an age for anything, they have to assume its history, namely how it formed and what has happened to it from that time to the present. Early in the 20th century, T.C. Chamberlin had developed the idea that the earth had formed by the accumulation of cold, solid particles and rocks he called ‘planetesimals’. By the 1950s this explanation was widely accepted, and meteorites were considered to be junk left over from when the earth formed.”
  13. E. W. Thommes et al. (2002). "The Formation of Uranus and Neptune among Jupiter and Saturn". The Astronomical Journal 123 (5): 2862–2883. doi:10.1086/339975. Retrieved 26 July 2015. 
  14. R.N. (2000). "Birth of Uranus and Neptune". Astronomy magazine 4 (28): 30. 
  15. Antonín Prchlík (1923). GEOLOGIA pre ôsmu triedu gymnázií, reálnych a reform. reál. gymnázií (in Czech, Slovak). Česká grafická Unie.