DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Early Earth. Artwork of the Earth about 4000 million years ago surrounded by asteroid-like planetesimal rocks and glowing red gas. The craters on Earth's surface show that many planetesimals have struck the thin skin of solid rock that enclosed our planet's molten interior. The Earth was formed by a process called accretion in which planetesimals and gas were pulled towards it by gravitational attraction. As the rocks struck the Earth, their gravitational potential energy was converted to heat. Earth cooled down as the accretion process ended, allowing water vapour to condense and form the oceans.
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