Planetary formation, computer artwork

Planetary formation, computer artwork

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Credit: CHRIS BUTLER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Planetary formation. Computer artwork of numerous small rocky bodies (planetessimals) accreting to form a planet in the early Solar System. This is a late stage in the accretion process, with only a few planetessimals left. As the planetessimals impact the planet, they turn the surface molten (red areas) 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 lower left.

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