Researchers Kun Wang and Stein B. Jacobsen of the Washington University in St. Louis have recently published a study about the moon's birth. The giant-impact hypothesis or the Theia Impact suggests that the moon was formed from the debris left from Earth and Theia's collision. The recent study may have debunked what scientists previously believed.
Earth And Theia's Collision
Theia, an astronomical body about the size of Mars, collided with the Earth about 4.5 billion years ago. This occurred 20 to 100 million after the solar system came together. Earth was still relatively young at that time.
After the said mild impact, most of Theia's mantle attached itself onto the Earth's mantle. However, Theia and the Earth would have cast out a lot of these materials into Earth's orbit. This debris would have merged into the Moon.
Wang and Jacobsen's recent study proposes an intense collision. According to Engadget, they have examined moon samples from Apollo missions. They have discovered that these samples contain a higher volume of potassium isotope than those in the Earth.
According to Space, they are about 0.4 parts per thousand richer of potassium-41.
Wang explained to Space that scientists need to rethink their previous ideas. More accurate measurements of oxygen isotopes might convince them to do that.
The strong impact had caused the vaporization of Theia and a part of the Earth. The moon would have been formed with small "moonlets". It would be enclosed with a dense atmosphere set off by vaporized material. That kind of atmosphere produced a large amount of isotope.
How Accurate Is The 2016 Model?
Wang has encouraged other scientists to conduct further studies. Their result and its accuracy will be confirmed by then. He admitted that it needs to be followed up. There are still questions left unanswered about the moon's birth.
Their model is the first of the newer version of the giant-impact hypothesis.