Earth Sciences

How was the Earth formed?

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Answered 2016-10-14 03:38:17

The Earth and all the planets are formed 4.5 billion years ago with interstellar hydrogen gas and heavier elements previously formed in earlier stars that had exploded.

The Sun, a young star, consists almost entirely of hydrogen and helium, which are being converted into other elements by a process of fusion, which generates the energy radiated by the Sun. However, the Sun produces insignificant amounts of elements heavier than carbon, since this fusion requires much higher temperatures. Some stars do create heavier elements, and as they reach the end of their lifespans, they explode as supernovas, releasing these elements (and creating still more, notably the radioactive ones).

Sometime more than five billion years ago, supernovae had exploded in our neighborhood of the Milky Way galaxy, creating and spewing out vast volumes of heavy elements. A tiny percentage of this material (but still a huge amount by earthly standards) was captured in the disk of gas that would form our Sun. Scientists are beginning to discover planets around other nearby stars, indicating that terrestrial planets (formed of heavy elements) also exist around other stars.

Around 4.5 billion years ago, this gas coalesced into a small number of balls, one of which was the Earth. These balls, or planets, were very hot but cooled, forming an outer crust on the smaller ones. The Earth could have continued to cool until it solidified. However, with radioactive uranium as one of the heaviest elements, the Earth's core can maintain an extremely high core temperature almost indefinitely. The discovery of near-surface geothermal "hot rocks" provides an example of the same process.

The Earth's surface has not always had the same form or with the same continents as it has now. A process of plate tectonics has the continents drifting (at an incredibly slow but measurable pace) across the surface. They split apart and ram back together to form new land masses. The Himalayan mountains were formed when the Indian land mass pushed into the southern boundary of the ancient Asian land mass, folding the crust and forming mountains. Other mountains were formed by similar processes.

The Earth's crust was originally formed from igneous rocks, much like the rocks formed when lava cools. These rocks gradually weathered away into sand and silt, which were deposited in the valleys and on the ocean bed. Here, they were compressed into sedimentary rocks such as sandstone and shale. The earth's surface is constantly changing, and many sedimentary rocks were later uplifted to form new mountains.

AnswerIt was made by something special, God. The King James Bible says in Genesis 1:1 that "In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth."
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