DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Gas giant around a young star, artwork. The star is seen shining through the plane of the disc of gas and dust from which the planet formed. Numerous smaller bodies are seen around the planet. It is thought that our solar system, and ones around other stars, formed from a rotating disc of gas and dust. Contraction of the gas led to it becoming denser and hotter at its centre until the temperature reached that at which nuclear reactions began, and the new star was formed. The material in the disc accreted into planets, and the increasing gravity of the growing planets swept up the material left in the disc.
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