JOHN FOSTER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOHN FOSTER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Solar system formation. Artwork representing the formation of a planetary system around a star based upon the nebular hypothesis. According to this model a solar system derives from the contraction of a rotating disc-shaped nebula mainly formed by hydrogen, helium and dust grains. The contraction may be triggered by shock waves from a nearby supernova explosion or by the mutual gravitational attraction of the contents of the nebula. The central part of the nebula collapses into a proto- star. Collisions between dust grains in the outer regions of the nebula lead to the formation of bodies which develop into planets by accretion.
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