CLAUS LUNAU / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CLAUS LUNAU / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Formation of the solar system. Computer illustration showing the stages that formed the solar system. From left to right: The Sun formed from a collapsing nebula some 4.6 billion years ago. The remaining dust and gas formed a rotating disc surrounding the Sun. Slow gravitational attraction (accretion) of small particles formed rocky asteroids (planetesimals), which in turn clumped together to form either the planets, or remained scattered like the present-day asteroid belt. As the planets formed they settled into their current orbits around the Sun.
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