Formation of a protoplanet, artwork

Formation of a protoplanet, artwork

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Credit: MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Formation of a protoplanet. Computer artwork of a protoplanet forming in a protoplanetary disc. Small rocky bodies (planetesimals) are accreting (due to gravitational attraction) with a protoplanet that has formed in the early Solar System. As the planetesimals impact the protoplanet, they turn the surface molten and trigger volcanic eruptions. This is the process by which the Earth and the other inner Solar System planets formed around 4.6 billion years ago. The Sun is at centre.

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