MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Planetary formation. Artwork of protoplanets being formed by the process of accretion in the early solar system. It is thought that the Sun and the planets formed from a cloud of gas and dust around 4. Gravitational condensation of this cloud (or nebula) formed a protostar (upper left) which has ignited under its own weight. The remaining material forms a rotating disc around this newly-formed Sun. Accretion (slow gravitational attraction) of the disc material forms the planets. Four planets (white) are seen forming in the solar disc. A gas giant (centre right) has cleared the gas from its orbit (darker band) and is now attracting gas from either side.
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