Planetary formation, illustration

Planetary formation, illustration

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Credit: GARY TONGE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Planetary formation. Illustration of violent impacts forming craters on the surface of new planets during the 'heavy bombardment' stage of their formation. The newly formed parent star is at upper right, glowing blue. As new stars form from clouds (nebulae) of gas and dust, the remaining material forms a rotating disc surrounding the new star. Over time, gravitational attraction (accretion) within the protoplanetary disc forms clumps of rock and ice of increasing size ranging from asteroids (planetesimals) to much larger spherical bodies (planets).

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