The moon would have formed in a few hours

The moon would have formed in a few hours
A full moon rises over Panama City on October 10, 2022. Luis Acosta/AFP

According to a recent study by NASA, the moon will existAbout 60% is made of proto-terrestrial material“, against initial theories of 30%.

There is only one step from the Earth to the Moon. A recent study offers new hypotheses about one of our solar system’s greatest mysteries: the moon’s origin. According to researchers from NASA and Durham University (United Kingdom), the composition of the satellite will be close to Earth. Their works have been published Astrophysical Journal Letters on Tuesday, October 4.

This new hypothesis presents a somewhat different view from older studies. Since the 1970s, there has been a consensus among scientists that the Moon was born 4.5 billion years ago following an impact between Earth and Mars, Thea. This planetary nucleus from somewhere would have hit the Earth, and it would then “Magma ocean“, according to Francis Rogard, astrophysicist at the National Center for Space Studies (Cnes).

According to the current consensus, our satellite bodies formed from collisional debris. In orbit around the Earth, they combine over months, even years, to form the Moon. So this scenario assumes the presence of the moonBasically made up of ingredients from Thea“, explains Frédéric Moinier, a professor at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGB) at Paris City University.

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“60% Proto-Terrestrial Materials”

However, these theories are not compatible with recent analyzes of lunar samples Apollo missions. According to scientists, there are similarities between the composition of the satellite and the composition of Earth. A recent NASA study published on October 4 confirms these claims.

With the help of “Super computerFor advanced technology, researchers were able to establish a new hypothesis, which was projected in a video posted on NASA’s Twitter account. The moon would have been, and will be, formed in a matter of hoursAbout 60% is made of proto-terrestrial material“, against initial theories of 30%.

The video simulation shows that after the impact, a body would have detached itself from the Earth’s material and then drifted away. This body will soon become the moon. This new scenario, if confirmed, is “”The oxygen isotopic composition of the Moon is similar to that of Earth“, emphasizes Frédéric Moynier.

Principles to be confirmed

However, the NASA study is and remains a hypothesis.Very theoreticalFrédéric Moynier warns. “We need to allow time for experts to discuss and find a consensus that will affirm or criticize“This situation prompts the promising Francis Rogard”Experts agree it will take four to five years“. Also, to Frédéric Moynier, some thermochemical aspects “did not appear. The Moon in particular is very dry: poor in water and volatile compounds. A big obstacle“.

Many of these questions are still pending.”One of the reasons to return to the moon», notes Frédéric Moinier. The entire surface area of ​​the satellite was not used by the Apollo program. especially “The dark side” and this “PolesUnexplored by humans or robots, Francis Rogard recalls. So that’s the purpose of the Artemis mission, which focuses on the star’s south pole. Its release, which was initially scheduled for late August, has been pushed back to November 14 with two back dates of November 16 and 19.

The goal of Artemis III is to bring back new lunar samples that could confirm or invalidate the latest NASA theories. “The first models will certainly reach us between 2026 and 2027” says Francis Rogard. “The more we learn about the Moon’s birth, the more we discover the evolution of our own Earth. Their histories are intertwined—and echoes can be found in the histories of other planets altered by similar or very different collisions.Vincent Ake, a researcher at Durham University and co-author of the study, said.

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