PLANET FORMATION: How to Build a Real Planet

Last Updated: March 19, 2019

Core Accretion Model

The core accretion model 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 and are a function of gravity and distance.

  • 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 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.
  • 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.

Solar System Formation

Solar System

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 Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. They are the terrestrial planets which are composed of heavier materials like iron, silicon and aluminum.

Finally, the less dense planets like Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune are on the exterior of the solar system. These gaseous planets are made of lighter material such as hydrogen, helium and methane.

Smack dab in between of 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 its own because of the tug-of-war between the massive sun and colossal size of Jupiter.

Finally, at the very outer shell of our solar system is 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’s lots of them. But they’re small and only account for a small total volume.

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