Space Research

Study puts forward new Moon formation theory

It has long been believed that moon was formed after a planet smashed into Earth billions of years ago. However, astronomers have reportedly come up with a new theory that claims that the moon was formed inside the cosmic doughnut of Earth’s shattered remains.

In recent decades the scientific consensus has been that the moon was formed by the debris, essentially molten rock and metal that basted off after a Mars-sized object, known as Theia, smashed into Earth. The debris formed by the collision clumped together to form the moon.

But as per the new theory compiled by a team of astronomers at the University of California, Davis and Harvard University, the moon may have formed from a massive, donut-shaped spinning cloud of vaporized rock known as a synestia. The researchers explained that synestias are formed from collisions between planet-sized objects and collapse over hundreds of years into molten planets as they get cooled down.

It is to be noted that the newly proposed theory begins with a massive collision that leads to the formation of a rapidly spinning, donut-shaped mass of vaporized rock, synestia and not a disc of rocky material. The new model does not rely on collision between the right sized objects at a certain angle.

“Our model starts with a collision that forms a synestia,” said lead researcher Simon Lock from Harvard University. “The moon forms inside the vaporized Earth at temperatures of four to six thousand degrees Fahrenheit and pressures of tens of atmospheres.”

The researcher also pointed out that despite the fact that moon inherited its composition from the Earth, it was able to maintain its distinct chemical composition as it lost the easily vaporized elements due to high temperatures.

The research team is hopeful that the new moon formation theory will help reshape ideas about how Earth and other planetary systems were formed.

The new study was published last week in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.

About the author

Megha Kedia

Megha Kedia

Megha is a seasoned reporter with over six years of experience covering news in technology, science and related fields. At The Space News, Megha covers space research & technology news.

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