The widely accepted theory that suggests our Moon formed after a Mars-sized planet crashed into an early Earth may be WRONG. A new study challenges EVERYTHING astronomers though the knew about how our ‘natural’ satellite came into existence. Current theories have failed to explain satisfactorily, why the Moon is so similar to rocks on Earth.
Probably since mankind first saw the Moon in the sky, humanity has wondered what force helped put the moon where it is today and how it was formed.
According to the leading theory, our moon was formed after a GIANT impact between a very early Earth and another planet the size of Mars dubbed Theia. The debris produced by the collision formed a dense, hot cloud of debris around our world, which, by the force of gravity, ended up being shaped together to create our natural satellite.
However, researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel say the moon didn’t form like that.
Experts from Israel have just put forth a new theory that suggests our Moon may have formed from a SERIES of massive impacts, and not just ONE. A study published in the journal Nature Geoscience, explains why Earth’s natural satellite is mostly made from Earth-like materials, and not a mixture of elements and those from another celestial body that participated in the collision.
The reason why the explanation that suggests a planet called Theia impacted Earth, does not satisfy the authors of the study is mostly because of the composition of the Moon, which has an isotopic signature very similar to that of Earth.
This simply should not be so.
What is expected, in the case of a single giant collision, is that the resulting body was a mixture of the impactor and the Earth. It could happen that all the material that formed the Moon would come from our planet, or that the impactor would happen to have an identical composition, but these scenarios are very unlikely.
After performing numerous mathematical calculations and simulations, researchers suggests that our moon may have been formed not by one massive collision, but by multiple collision.
According to experts, it would take about 20 of these collisions to assemble the moon.
Speaking about the theory, lead author Dr. Raluca Rufu told the Business Insider that it is much more likely that the Moon formed from many smaller collisions, because it is a more organic process.
“The multiple impact scenario is a more ‘natural’ way of explaining the formation of the Moon,” Rufu said. “In the early stages of the Solar System, impacts were very abundant, therefore it is more natural that several common impactors formed the Moon, rather than one special one.”
Furthermore, Dr. Rufu believes that current theories do not explain satisfactorily why the moon is so similar to rocks on Earth.
“If multiple of bodies contribute to the final Moon, their chemical signatures can even out, therefore the traces of the various impacts will be masked,” she said. “Also, higher velocity impactors can excavate more Earth material, hence the moonlets will resemble the Earth’s composition.”
According to the authors, the impacts between large celestial bodies and the proto-earth that could create small moons was sufficiently common within the early solar system to produce the moon we see today.
This implies that the moon was formed in a period of several million years, and its interior may even hold evidence of that period of cosmic bombing. This means that the Earth and Moon’s interiors are also less mixed up, and may have records of the events that eventually gave birth to both the Earth and the moon.
Gereth Collins of Imperial College in London, warns in an article accompanying the study in “Nature Geoscience” that more evidence is needed to confirm that this hypothesis is correct.
Featured image credit Astronomy Now