New NASA study claims moon formed in just hours
Author: Clark Tos
Most theories about the moon's formation say it came from the mixture of debris over the years after Earth collided with a huge mass. Using the powerful computing power of a supercomputer, scientists simulated the phenomenon and came to the conclusion that the process would not have taken so long, it would even have been completed within a few hours.
This study revolutionary, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, presents an alternative approach and constitutes a great opening in the search for our natural satellite. 'This opens up a whole new range of possible starting points for understanding the moon's evolution.' said Jacob Kegerreis, the research's lead author. The most established model behind the formation of the Moon says it was formed when, billions of years ago, an object called 'theia', which was about the size of Mars, came into collision with our Earth.
Although this theory explains a great deal about the Moon , scientists are still puzzled today as to why the composition of the Moon is so similar to that of Earth. Thus, by analyzing in detail a large number of lunar samples, they were able to predict that a large part of the material that constitutes the Moon originally came from the Earth.
If we stick to the popular theory of the Earth-theia collision, then it is complicated to know why the Moon is so similar to the Earth. According to NASA, this theory is unlikely because theia was blasted into orbit and only mixed with a little material from Earth. Unless theia is isotopically similar to Earth, this theory would not hold water, say NASA experts. 'We find that giant impacts can immediately place a satellite with mass and iron content similar to the Moon into orbit well beyond the Earth's boundary.' write the authors.
In this new simulation, the researchers used more Earth materials to create the Moon, including its outer layers, which could explain the close composition. According to NASA, this hypothesis of faster formation in one step provides a clearer solution. It also explains the mystery of the Moon in a wide orbit with an interior that is not fully melted, which would also explain features like the Moon's tilted orbit and thin crust.
Learn more about our Earth
NASA is currently undertaking the Artemis mission, whose goal is to get a crew on lunar soil by 2025, and believes that the research carried out on this mission will help to learn more. Knowing more about the Moon will bring us closer to the truth about how our own Earth became a world fit for life. “The more we learn about how the moon came into being, the more we discover the evolution of our own earth” said Vincent Eke, co-author of the article.