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October 15 2012

Large asteroid Vesta once had molten core, magnetic field

Models of our solar system's formation suggest that the inner rocky planets were built in stages, as small objects combined to create planetesimals, which merged to protoplanets. Collisions among these built the planets we're familiar with. Although this process happened over four billion years ago, it may still be possible to understand this era. Some evidence implies that Saturn's moon Phoebe may be a planetesimal, while some of the largest asteroids appear to be protoplanets. By studying them, we can look back to the earliest stages of our Solar System's history.

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