What if the moon formed in a few hours?

Illustration montrant la Terre après l'impact avec un autre astre.

Most astrophysicists have agreed for decades to explain the existence of the Moon in Earth’s orbit, which occurred 4.5 billion years ago, between the primitive Earth and a protoplanet called Thea.

Thea hits Earth hard

Thea hits Earth hard

Photo: Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This object could be as massive as Mars. In comparison, the asteroid that caused the disappearance of the dinosaurs was later only The size of Manhattan.

The shock of the merger of the two stars would have accelerated a large mass of material into Earth’s orbit, which would then have coalesced to form the Moon over tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of years.

Moon is the natural satellite of Earth.

Moon is the natural satellite of Earth.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Daniel Coulombe

Moon 101

  • It has a diameter of 3476 km, which corresponds to a quarter of the Earth’s diameter (12,742 km).
  • It is located at an average distance of 384,400 km from Earth.
  • The temperature varies from -248°C to +123°C.
  • It is the largest moon in the solar system relative to the size of its planet.

More accurate simulations

The new theory presents a scenario similar to a giant impact, but one that would have happened in a much faster time, almost instantaneously.

Researcher Vincent Ake and his colleagues created extremely-detailed, high-resolution simulations of hundreds of collisions between Earth and Thea at different impact angles, speeds, planetary orbits and masses.

This work revealed that the low-resolution simulations conducted to date may miss some important features of large-scale collisions that could not be imagined in previous studies.

The simulations show that the moon would have formed at very high speeds, especially from material from Earth, within a few hours.

This hypothesis fits well with analyzes of rocks brought back from the Moon. Therefore, the moon does not have 30% surface area, as the cosmological hypothesis says, but 60%.

The sight of the Moon’s imminent birth helps explain unsolved mysteries, particularly the Moon’s tilted orbit relative to the Earth’s equator. This scenario also explains why the primitive moon that protects the protoplanet’s heart has not completely melted. Additionally, its thin crust is made of materials derived from Earth.

Cosmic conflicts

Collisions are an essential part of how planetary bodies form and evolve.

A better understanding of the Moon’s origin allows us to better understand the evolution of our own EarthVincent AK says:

The impact of Theia and the fall of meteorites during Earth’s evolution certainly explain, at least in part, how Earth was able to gather the materials necessary for the origin of life.

The more we can simulate and analyze what’s at stake in these collisions, the better we’ll be able to understand how a planet evolves to become habitable. »

A quote Vincent AK

A broken relationship

Analysis of samples from deep beneath the lunar surface that will be brought back to Earth by future NASA Artemis missions will allow years to come to confirm or invalidate the planet’s immediate formation theory.

Until then, the Moon will continue to move slowly at a rate of about three centimeters per year, so that in a few million years, it will slip out of Earth’s gravitational grip.

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