NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Planetary collision. Animation showing a high-speed collision between a planet and another body about the size of Mercury. The result is a planet stripped of its outer layers, with most of the smaller body absorbed by the larger one. There is evidence that a collision of this sort occurred a few thousand years ago around a young star, called HD 172555, about 100 light-years from Earth. It is thought a body the size of Mars collided a young Earth in a similar event. Debris from the impact went into orbit, while the cores of the two planets merged. The debris formed a Saturn-like ring around the Earth. Later collisions in this ring led to the formation of the Moon, probably within just a few thousand years.
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