Why does earth rotate in a clockwise direction? Did a large meteor collide with earth causing earth to rotate? If that is what happened, could another, larger meteor cause earth to reverse its rotation?
- Anybody can ask a question
- Anybody can answer
- The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
Earth rotating clockwise is the result of a chain reaction that started when Earth's star formed as the result gas clouds collapsing. During the collapse of the gas, one direction was shorter and a disc formed. Due to the law of conservation of angular momentum, the disc gained an overall spin, which was passed to all the objects of notable mass within its solar system; these objects are commonly known as planets. As a result, all plants within a given solar system have the same spin as the star in their solar system to start.
Might be worth noting that all rotating bodies that rotate clockwise when viewed from the southern hemisphere rotate and counter-clockwise when viewed from the northern hemisphere. Also, since the Sun is not solid on the surface, it does not rotate as a solid body; meaning it rotates faster at its equator and slower at its poles.
As for the reasoning behind, the axis of the rotation, as pointed out in other answers, this is the result of Earth's past impacts with objects of enough mass to produce the shift from a zero offset from the stars axis, to the current axis of the rotation. Future impacts would be able to change the rotation.
Current Axis of the Planets in Earth's solar system
If you ascribe to the giant impact hypothesis, which most scientists do, whatever rotation the Earth had prior to the formation of the Moon was lost thanks to that 'giant impact'. That was a massive impact involving a Mars-sized body colliding with the proto-Earth. A "little" impact wouldn't change the Earth's rotation by much at all. Note very well: Something that could entirely wipe out life as we know it would still be "little" in this regard. Another big oblique whack by a Mars-sized body would be needed to make a sizable dent in the Earth's rotation axis.
If you look at the
The Earth? Whatever formed the Moon, whether by giant impact or something else, it almost certainly wreaked havoc with the Earth's primordial rotation.