Not only do researchers suggest the moon formed before the Earth, but they also indicate how the moon formed ‘inside’ a sort of vaporized Earth at temperatures of 2,200 ° C to 3,300 ° C and pressures of tens of atmospheres.
The Moon formed within a cloud of vaporized rock, and perhaps it came into existence before our own planet suggests a new scientific theory.
Most scientists believe that the Moon originated as a result of the impact of a Mars-sized body called Theia against Earth, some 4.5 billion years ago.
The violent clash threw rocks and molten metals into the orbit of our planet that ended up merging with each other, eventually forming Earth’s eternal companion we see in the sky.
However, a new study led by the University of California Davis and the Harvard University tells a different story than we have heard in the last few decades; The Moon may have formed before our planet, radically changing everything we know about our satellite and planet.
“The new work explains features of the moon that are hard to resolve with current ideas,’ said Sarah Stewart, a professor at the University of California Davis.
“The moon is chemically almost the same as the Earth, but with some differences,” she said. “This is the first model that can match the pattern of the moon’s composition.”
Researchers suggest how Earth’s satellite was formed before, and at much higher temperatures, than the formation of our planet.
The new explanation, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, recognizes episodes of the collision, but not in the way that was counted so far.
Meet Synestia, a new theory of formation
According to the new version, the Moon arose inside the Earth, when our planet was inside a “synestia,” a huge, spinning, doughnut-shaped mass of hot, vaporized rock.
It is a new type of planetary object, recently proposed by the same authors, which is also formed by the brutal clash of other large bodies.
Its name derives from «syn» together, and «Hestia» the Greek goddess of architecture.
The authors of the new study believe that these cosmic donuts were gigantic, up to ten times the size of Earth, but probably did not last long, only around hundreds of years.
They shrink rapidly as they radiate heat, which causes the rock vapor to condense into liquid and eventually collapse into a molten planet.
“Our model starts with a collision that forms a synestia,” explains Simon Lock, a Harvard researcher.
“The Moon was formed inside the vaporized Earth at temperatures of 2,200 ° C to 3,300 ° C and pressures of tens of atmospheres,” he concludes.
Mr. Lock indicates how isotope tests have revealed a fingerprint which undoubtedly proves that our planet and its faithful companion, the moon, are nearly identical.
Despite this fact, studies have proven that our moon has far less volatile elements like potassium, sodium, and copper, which are relatively common on Earth.
“There hasn’t been a good answer for this,” Mr. Lock said.
“People have proposed several explanations for how the moon could have wound up with fewer volatiles, but no one has been able to quantitatively match the moon’s composition.”
As explained in the new synestia theory, cosmic bodies are created within a so-called ‘seed,’ a relatively small amount of liquid rock located in the center of the swirling cloud of super-hot matter.
As the material cools over time, the vaporized rock turns into a liquid.
Eventually, the molten rock falls down throughout the cloud and most of it gathers around the seed to form a plane.
Scientists suggest that as our planet was formed, some of the rock-rain condensed at the surface of the Synestia, and rained down onto the proto-moon, while the Earth synestia gradually shrank.
The moon was created before, and at much higher temperatures.
Scientists say that apart from this difference, the celestial bodies are nearly identical.
According to the new theory, the moon may have formed around 1,000 before our planet as it emerged from the synestia much faster.
Mr. Lock explained how “the rate of rainfall is about ten times that of a hurricane on Earth.”
“Over time, the whole structure shrinks, and the moon emerges from the vapor. Eventually, the whole synestia condenses and what’s left is a ball of spinning liquid rock that eventually forms the Earth as we know it today,” he added.
And despite the fact that scientists came up with a relatively solid theory, there’s still some work to do.
“We’ve done calculations of each of the processes that go into forming the moon and show that the model could work, but there are various aspects of our theory that will need more interrogation. For example, when the moon is in this vapor, what does it do to that vapor? How does it perturb it? How does the vapor flow past the moon? These are all things we need to go back and examine in more detail.”