A giant smashup created the Moon, according to new evidence, when a planetary body the size of Mars collided with Earth. Artist’s depiction of a collision between two planetary bodies. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
According to the Giant Impact Theory, proposed back in 1975, Earth’s moon was created in a massive collision between a planetary body called Theia (in Greek mythology the mother of the moon Selene) and the early Earth.
Now Planetary scientists found evidence that backs up this theory: “Precious metals were brought to Earth by massive collisions relatively quickly after the solar system formed.”
New research led by James Day of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego has exposed for the first time how and when such elements may have arrived on Earth.
James Day said: “You require some kind of wholesale melting event of the Moon to provide the heat necessary to evaporate the zinc.”
The Great Impact Theory could be the key to understanding another mystery: why is Earth so endowed with water but the Moon so dry?
“This is a very important question, because if we are looking for life on other planets, we have to recognise that similar conditions are probably required,” said Day.
So understanding how planets obtain such conditions is critical for understanding how life ultimate occurs on a planet.”
Cross-polarized transmitted-light image of a lunar rock. Image credit: James Day.
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