Scientists widely believe that the Moon was created as a result of a collision between the Earth and a planetary body known as Theia, however, a new study’s simulations now suggest the planetary body was significantly larger than previously hypothesized.
The study, which was published in the journal Nature, indicated that it “now seems more probably that a collision between two planets of similar composition led to the formation of the Moon.”
In the 1970s, what is known as the giant impact hypothesis was first introduced. The hypothesis entails the creation of the Moon as a result of a Mars-sized planet’s collision with Earth some 4.5 billion years ago.
While the notion of sister planets implied by the theory has been referred to as “uncomfortably rare” by planetary researcher Robin Canup with the Southwest Research Intitute in Colorado, the recent simulations of the Solar System’s formation produced by astrophysicist Hagai Perets at the Israel Insitute of Technology and his colleagues suggest the odds are higher than previously thought; researchers previously thought that the odds of two sister planets colliding was around one-percent.
Scientists announced midway through 2014 that they had found evidence of the planetary body which slammed into our home planet over four billion years ago. Analysis of lunar rocks collected during the Apollo mission revealed ratios of oxygen isotopes 17 and 16 which were different from their earthly counterparts, differences which the study’s lead author Daniel Herwartz referred to as “small and difficult to detect,” according to a Space.com report.
In other lunar coverage here on Immortal News, China plans to mine the moon for Helium-3— a rare helium isotope which, while scarce on our planet, is plentiful on the Moon.