2019 Best Digital Drawing/Painting – Anna Ferguson

The Universe Builds a Planet

With the growing interest in the new and exciting field of exoplanets (planets outside our own solar system), science has obtained a new way to investigate our own origins by examining how planets have formed in other solar systems. Although the dynamics of planet formation are still not yet fully understood, the popular theory is that planets form from the coalition of many smaller bodies called “planetesimals”. This process theoretically happens over many millions of years in an area known as the “protoplanetary disk” around a forming star. A planet’s birth is a very violent one, including many thousands of collisions with other planetesimals and extreme temperatures. The product of all this may be a world that resembles one of the rocky or “terrestrial” planets, like Mercury, Venus, Earth, or Mars, or if the body grows large enough, a gas giant like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, or Neptune.

In my work, The Universe Builds a Planet, I depict an abstracted form of this coalition process. The illustration was entirely created in Adobe Illustrator with vector graphics. The composition flows from left to right, showing the slow progression from many slow planetesimals to a single dominant body, the planet, surrounded by many smaller objects which continue to strike its surface. Just under the planet’s thin crust is burning magma and at its core, solid iron. This internal heat created from millions of years of bombardment will take billions of years to dissipate and at least in the case of the planet we call home, its hot heart still burns.