Earth, Moon, and Planets

, Volume 98, Issue 1–4, pp 39–95 | Cite as

3. Solar System Formation and Early Evolution: the First 100 Million Years

  • Thierry MontmerleEmail author
  • Jean-Charles Augereau
  • Marc Chaussidon
  • Mathieu Gounelle
  • Bernard Marty
  • Alessandro Morbidelli
Original Paper


The solar system, as we know it today, is about 4.5 billion years old. It is widely believed that it was essentially completed 100 million years after the formation of the Sun, which itself took less than 1 million years, although the exact chronology remains highly uncertain. For instance: which, of the giant planets or the terrestrial planets, formed first, and how? How did they acquire their mass? What was the early evolution of the “primitive solar nebula” (solar nebula for short)? What is its relation with the circumstellar disks that are ubiquitous around young low-mass stars today? Is it possible to define a “time zero” (t 0), the epoch of the formation of the solar system? Is the solar system exceptional or common? This astronomical chapter focuses on the early stages, which determine in large part the subsequent evolution of the proto-solar system. This evolution is logarithmic, being very fast initially, then gradually slowing down. The chapter is thus divided in three parts: (1) The first million years: the stellar era. The dominant phase is the formation of the Sun in a stellar cluster, via accretion of material from a circumstellar disk, itself fed by a progressively vanishing circumstellar envelope. (2) The first 10 million years: the disk era. The dominant phase is the evolution and progressive disappearance of circumstellar disks around evolved young stars; planets will start to form at this stage. Important constraints on the solar nebula and on planet formation are drawn from the most primitive objects in the solar system, i.e., meteorites. (3) The first 100 million years: the “telluric” era. This phase is dominated by terrestrial (rocky) planet formation and differentiation, and the appearance of oceans and atmospheres.


Star formation: stellar clusters circumstellar disks circumstellar dust jets and outflows; solar nebula: high-energy irradiation meteorites short-lived radionuclides extinct radioactivities supernovae; planet formation: planetary embryos runaway growth giant planets migration asteroid belt formation of the Moon; early Earth: atmosphere core differentiation magnetic field 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thierry Montmerle
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jean-Charles Augereau
    • 1
  • Marc Chaussidon
    • 2
  • Mathieu Gounelle
    • 3
    • 4
  • Bernard Marty
    • 5
  • Alessandro Morbidelli
    • 6
  1. 1.Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de GrenobleUniversité Joseph FourierGrenobleFrance
  2. 2.Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et Géochimiques (CRPG)NancyFrance
  3. 3.Muséum National d’Histoire NaturelleParisFrance
  4. 4.Natural History MuseumLondonUK
  5. 5.Ecole Nationale Supérieure de GéologieNancyFrance
  6. 6.Observatoire de la Côte d’AzurNiceFrance

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