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Canup and Agnor: Accretion of the Terrestrial Planets 113 1. INTRODUCTION

Summary: Canup and Agnor: Accretion of the Terrestrial Planets 113
In the planetesimal hypothesis, the growth of terrestrial
planets is the result of the process of collisional accumula-
tion from initially small particles in the protoplanetary disk.
The accretion process is typically described in terms of three
stages of growth, which are distinguished by our basic un-
derstanding of the relevant physical processes involved in
forming solid bodies in a particular size range. The first
stage involves the formation of kilometer-sized planetesi-
mals from an initial protoplanetary disk of gas and dust. By
the end of this stage of growth (discussed in chapter by
Ward, 2000), planetesimals have reached sizes large enough
so that their dynamical evolution is determined primarily
by gravitational interactions with the central star and with
other planetesimals, rather than by surface, electromagnetic,
or sticking forces. The middle stage consists of the accu-
mulation of a swarm of kilometer-sized planetesimals into
lunar- to Mars-sized planetary embryos (see chapter by


Source: Agnor, Craig B. - Astronomy Unit, School of Mathematical Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London


Collections: Physics