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Planet Formation and the Core Accretion Theory


Core Accretion Model

The core accretion theory describes the creation of our planet and solar system. From the inner terrestrial planets to the outer gaseous planets, it illustrates how planets become multi-layered.

The core accretion theory also outlines how gravity is a function of distance, which is the primary mechanism that moulded our solar system.

Today, we’re going to go through the core accretion theory steps for how to build a real planet like Earth.

What happened during the early formation of the solar system?

Solar System

Out solar system went through a series of events that transformed it into what it is today:

  • ROTATING CLOUD OF DUST: For our solar system, the core accretion theory starts with a rotating cloud of dust. Next, it accumulates pulling in 99.8% of matter. Eventually, this becomes our sun at the center of the solar system.
  • SOLAR WINDS: Solar winds swept in hydrogen and helium atoms that were closer to the sun because they were smaller in size. But the sun wasn’t able to pull in heavier elements because of their heavier mass.
  • COALESCENCE: Heavier elements spiraled and gelled together into planets of their own. Earth and the other terrestrial planets coalesced to form spheres. The heaviest material like zinc and iron sank to form an inner core. Finally, lighter material remained on top meshing together to create a crust.

The two opposing forces of Jupiter and the sun counteracted each other. This stabilizing tug-of-war between Jupiter and the sun is why we have an asteroid belt. Asteroids that reside there never made it to be a planet on its own.

Where did the terrestrial planets form?

Solar System Terrestrial Planets

Our solar system is a planetary system that includes a central star of the sun and all the natural space objects orbiting the sun. At the center of the solar system is the sun which accounts for 99.86% of the total mass.

The planets closest to the sun are densest which includes:

They are the terrestrial planets that are composed of heavier materials like iron, silicon, and aluminum.

Where are the gaseous planets?

Asteroids Solar System

Finally, the gaseous planets are made of lighter material such as hydrogen, helium and methane. These planets reside on the exterior of the solar system including:

Smack dab in between Mars and Jupiter is an asteroid belt. It’s kilometers in size comprised of odd-shaped rocks. These rocks never made it into a planet of their own because of the tug-of-war between the massive sun and the colossal size of Jupiter.

Finally, at the very outer shell of our solar system in the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud. These icy bodies of space debris and comets span a distance of 50,000 to 200,000 AU. There are lots of them. But they’re small and only account for a small total volume.

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