Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mini Mercury

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mini Mercury

Article excerpt

Picture Mercury in your mind, and what's the first word you'd choose to describe it? Small? Puny even? Thorough observation proves that Mercury is indeed the smallest major planet in our solar system. But ask yourself how it got so small, and the picture becomes unclear.

The most popular scenario scientists use to explain Mercury's relatively small stature is an impact that occurred when our solar system was in its infancy. It's suggested that at this time, Mercury was more than twice its current size, consisting of a dense metallic core surrounded by a mantle of molten rock and a terrestrial crust - - that is until a rocky body called a planetesimal collided with it, stripping it of much of its outer layers. The remaining matter would have condensed around the core until it became the Mercury we recognize.

Another theory suggests that Mercury's size is the result of vaporization. In our sun's early development, it would have created temperatures on Mercury as high as tens of thousands of degrees Fahrenheit. …

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