DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Solar system formation. Artwork of the region around Jupiter (centre) in the early history of the solar system. Numerous rocky bodies of varying sizes are seen in the region. The larger ones, and Jupiter itself, are being impacted by smaller bodies. This is the process by which planets are built up from dust grains to small rocks to irregular rocks to large rocky spheres. Eventually a planet will accrete the vast majority of material in its orbital path. The powerful solar wind of the young sun then blows away the remaining material. The solar system is thought to have formed around 4.6 billion years ago.
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