If the solar system condensed from a gas cloud, the sun would contain more than 2% of the angular momentum of the solar system.
The sun transferred most of its momentum to the planets through a process known as magnetic braking. In the early stages of the solar system, the magnetic field of the sun dragged ionized atoms in the solar nebula with it, thereby transferring energy that accelerated the atoms but slowed the sun's rotation. (Wagner 1991:436).
There is nothing mysterious about this process. Magnetic braking is analogous to the transfer of angular momentum that occurs when a spinning ice skater suddenly grabs hold of weights with her outstretched arms: her angular momentum decreases, while the angular momentum of the weights increases. With the right weights at the right distances, the skater's angular momentum can be reduced to any fraction of the angular momentum of the entire spinning system.
Wagner JK. 1991. Introduction to the Solar System. Philadelphia: Saunders College Publishing.
Last updated: 5 Nov 2014
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