The formation of the Solar System theoretically occurred 4.568 billion years ago from a theoretical gravitational collapse of a region within a large molecular cloud.[h] This initial cloud was likely several light-years across and probably birthed several stars.[38] As is typical of molecular clouds, this one consisted mostly of hydrogen, with some helium, and small amounts of heavier elements fused by previous generations of stars. As the region that would become the Solar System, known as the pre-solar nebula,[39] collapsed, conservation of angular momentum caused it to rotate faster. The centre, where most of the mass collected, became increasingly hotter than the surrounding disc.[38] As the contracting nebula rotated faster, it began to flatten into a protoplanetary disc with a diameter of roughly 200 AU[38] and a hot, dense protostar at the centre.[40][41] The planets formed by accretion from this disc,[42] in which dust and gas gravitationally attracted each other, coalescing to form ever larger bodies. Hundreds of protoplanets may have existed in the early Solar System, but they either merged or were destroyed, leaving the planets, dwarf planets, and leftover minor bodies.