Recently, there was a change of heart among the scientific community. The debate about the Moon’s formation is an old one, but it seem that an intrepid team of scientists managed, to put an end to it. According to their paper, the Moon formed after Theia hit Earth, a planetary-mass object.
- Scientists analyzed the levels of oxygen isotopes in the rock sample brought from the Moon;
- The rock samples from the Moon have been harvested by the Apollo missions;
- Theia is a planetary-mass object that collided with Earth 4.5 billion years ago;
- There is no difference in isotope levels between the lunar rocks samples and the samples taken from Earth.
There have been many talks surrounding the formation of Earth’s natural satellite. While most of the scientists supported the theory according to which our Moon formed as a direct result of a violent collision, which allegedly took place 4.5 billion years ago, others argued that the moon formed after a travelling celestial body got caught in Earth’s gravitational field.
But this brand new theory may indeed put an end to all debates regarding the Moon’s genesis. According to the recently published paper, the moon indeed formed after our planet collided with Theia, a hypothetical proto-planet. The impact took place approximately 4.5 billion years ago and the event was so violent, that big chunks originating from both Earth and Theia became dislodged and caught into Earth’s gravitational field.
This new theory is supported by a chemical analysis performed on rock sample brought from the moon. According to the scientists working on the project, it would seem that the moon rock samples have the same oxygen isotopes like the sample taken from Earth.
Edward Young, the lead author of the study, declared that in terms of isotopic signature, there is no significant difference between the rock sample brought to Earth by the Apollo missions and the samples harvested from Earth.
This simple chemical analysis could lead to a groundbreaking discovery on the origins of our Solar System. Moreover, although many million years have passed since Theia collided with Earth, it would seem that parts of the massive celestial body can still be found on Earth.
The scientists have also unearthed another fact that reinforces their theory according to which the Moon formed after Theia hit Earth. By analyzing the rock samples, they have discovered that the rocks from Earth have more elements in common with Theia than the rock sample harvested from the moon.
In order to see if there is any difference in oxygen isotopes, the scientists compared the levels of O-17, O-16 and O-19. The experiments revealed that the lunar rock sampled bore the undistinguishable O-16 and O-17 signatures, which are endemic to planets like Mars and Earth.
In conclusion, the team of scientists managed to prove that the Moon’s formation was the direct result of Theia colliding with our own planet.