JOE TUCCIARONE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOE TUCCIARONE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Early Earth. Artwork of a shower of fiery meteorites falling about 4000 million years ago onto the hot, glowing rocks of Earth. The craters on the surface of the Moon show that it has experienced similar bombardments. Both the Earth & Moon were formed by a process called accretion in which lumps of rock were pulled towards them by gravitational attraction. As the rocks struck the Earth, their gravitational potential energy was converted to heat. The meteorites are glowing as they fall due to friction as they pass through the primitive atmosphere formed by volcanic eruptions of volatile chemicals. At this time, the Moon was much closer to the Earth than it is today.
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