Growth of large, late-stage planetesimals

Richard Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The late stage of terrestrial planets' growth determined many of their fundamental properties, including their thermal properties and petrology, their impact records, and possibly the existence of the Moon. A critical result of late-stage models, which bears on observable properties, is the size of the largest planetesimals that grew near, and later impacted,those that became full-size planets. There has been considerable misinterpretation of previous models regarding the relation between the size of planetesimals and their relative velocities. Furthermore, some models neglect the possible decrease in relative velocity as control is transferred from the largest to the second-largest body in an accreation zone. Evidence that Venus helped stir Earth-zone planetismals is not copelling. When models are evaluated, the results are found to depend strongly on uncertain initial conditions. The size of the second-largest planetesimal in the Earth's zone might range from ∼300 to ∼2500 km, with corresponding accretion times of ∼7 × 106 and ∼108 years, respectively. Both extremes are generated from plausible initial conditions and both seem consistent with observed planetary properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-150
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1979
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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