Occurrence of Giant Impacts During the Growth of the Terrestrial Planets

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Science  17 May 1985:
Vol. 228, Issue 4701, pp. 877-879
DOI: 10.1126/science.228.4701.877


Three-dimensional Monte Carlo simulations of the accumulation of the terrestrial planets in the absence of gas drag produced results that are in general agreement with the number and distribution of the present planets. The accumulation process appears to be characterized by impact of bodies as large as three times the mass of Mars at velocities of about 9 kilometers per second. These giant impacts on Earth may have supplied the material and angular momentum that formed the moon, should have heated Earth to the melting point, and may have been responsible for the differences in the content of inert gases of the atmospheres of Earth and Venus.