GARY HINCKS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GARY HINCKS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Formation of the Earth. Artwork depicting the formation of the Earth according to the accretion theory. It is believed that the early solar system was a disc of tiny particles. These particles collided randomly and joined together, forming larger bodies of rock and ice. As they grew, the effect of gravity accelerated the process. Rocky bodies around a kilometre across (planetesimals) formed, joining in turn to form larger proto- planets, and eventually the Earth and the other inner planets. Earth was probably initially featureless, with a molten rock surface due to the heat created by the impacts.
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