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The gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn, and the ice giants, Uranus and Neptune, formed much faster than the four terrestrial planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars, did.Approximately 4.54 billion years ago, a Mars-sized body slammed into the newly formed Earth, partially liquifying the surface and ejecting molten debris into space.Elephantine Jupiter got caught up in these currents and started moving inward toward the Sun.

We know all of these intricate details to a near approximate date by studying rocks on our planet.

Rocks hold records of all kinds of transitions that they have undergone.

Fortunately, Saturn soon started pulling Jupiter back, toward where it is today, even as the Solar wind stripped away all of the residual gas in the solar system into interstellar space.

At this point, Earth was still cooling from the formation of the Moon, and the period of bombardment kept it agitated and volcanically active.

And this article, the first of the series, starts at the very beginning.

Some 4.6 billion years ago, a giant cloud of gas, called a nebula, collapsed into itself because of its mass and crushed all the gassy material in it into a plane, even as it was constantly spinning.

This disc of material is called the protoplanetary disc.

Over a period of a hundred thousand years after the collapse, the Sun was formed at the center of this disc, with the rest of the nebular gas swirling around it.

It contains the Hadeon eon, when Earth was forming and the Late Heavy Bombardment took place; the Archeon eon, when water first showed up and the first lifeforms evolved; the Proterozoic eon, when the first multicellular organisms appeared and Earth’s atmosphere received oxygen for the first time as a result of the proliferation of cyanobacteria.

The early years of the Precambrian saw the formation of the Moon, a molten Earth slowly cooling down, and the planet getting battered by small runaway bodies.

Geological time is primarily divided into eons, which are divided into eras, which are further divided into periods.

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