Thanks to moon rocks brought back during the Apollo missions, scientists are revising the models of how the Earth-moon system formed. And it might have been quite a spectacular event.
The birth of our moon might have been more violent than previously thought.
Scientists studied the chemistry of moon rocks and Earth rocks, and, in a new paper published Monday in the journal Nature, they say they now havehard evidence that a humongous, high-energy collision between the Earth and another large space rock could be the origin story for our lunar companion.
And pinning down this story could change our understandings of planetary systems across the universe.
“So much of what we understand about planet formation in general is premised on our ideas about how the Earth and moon formed,” Robin Canup, an astrophysicist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., whose research has focused on the formation of planets and satellites but who was not part of this study, tells The Christian Science Monitor in a phone interview. Because the Earth-moon system is the most easily accessible data, “It’s sort of a linchpin for some of our ideas about how terrestrial-like planets form.”
Speculation about the origin of our lunar companion has long been the focus of scientific inquiry.