Space Science Reviews

, Volume 163, Issue 1–4, pp 25–40 | Cite as

Vesta and Ceres: Crossing the History of the Solar System

  • A. CoradiniEmail author
  • D. Turrini
  • C. Federico
  • G. Magni


The evolution of the Solar System can be schematically divided into three different phases: the Solar Nebula, the Primordial Solar System and the Modern Solar System. These three periods were characterized by very different conditions, both from the point of view of the physical conditions and from that of the processes there were acting through them. Across the Solar Nebula phase, planetesimals and planetary embryos were forming and differentiating due to the decay of short-lived radionuclides. At the same time, giant planets formed their cores and accreted the nebular gas to reach their present masses. After the gas dispersal, the Primordial Solar System began its evolution. In the inner Solar System, planetary embryos formed the terrestrial planets and, in combination with the gravitational perturbations of the giant planets, depleted the residual population of planetesimals. In the outer Solar System, giant planets underwent a violent, chaotic phase of orbital rearrangement which caused the Late Heavy Bombardment. Then the rapid and fierce evolution of the young Solar System left place to the more regular secular evolution of the Modern Solar System. Vesta, through its connection with HED meteorites, and plausibly Ceres too were between the first bodies to form in the history of the Solar System. Here we discuss the timescale of their formation and evolution and how they would have been affected by their passage through the different phases of the history of the Solar System, in order to draw a reference framework to interpret the data that Dawn mission will supply on them.


Asteroid Vesta Asteroid Ceres Asteroids Meteorites Solar system formation Solar system evolution Impacts 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Coradini
    • 1
    Email author
  • D. Turrini
    • 1
  • C. Federico
    • 2
  • G. Magni
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Physics of Interplanetary SpaceINAFRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of PerugiaPerugiaItaly
  3. 3.Institute for Space Astrophysics and Cosmic PhysicsINAFRomeItaly

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