Core Formation and Early Evolution

The process of planetary core formation is still not well understood. Because all terrestrial planets are presently already separated into an iron--rich core and a silicate mantle, it is not possible to observe this process today. The existence of the planetary core itself (proved by seismological and gravimetric measurements on the Earth and by space missions to other planets) and isotopic anomalies are evidences for a separation of metal and silicate phase. Since core formation is one of the earliest processes after planet formation, it determines the initial conditions for the following evolution. Computational fluid dynamics allows to simulate single aspects of core formation, for instance the settling of large iron bodies in a silicon environment.