DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Earth's formation. Artwork of Earth forming in the early solar system. It is thought that the planets formed from a rotating disc of material that formed around, and at the same time as, the Sun (upper left), around 4.6 billion years ago. The rocky inner planets formed during a chaotic period when many protoplanets formed by gathering up surrounding material (such as the rocks seen) by gravitational attraction. Eventually, four planets (Mars, Earth, Venus and Mercury) survived, along with numerous asteroids. Earth's Moon has not yet formed and meteorite impacts are seen on the still molten surface of the Earth.
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