Researchers from the University of New Mexico are sure that the bowels of our satellite conceal evidence of an ancient collision that once radically influenced the course of development of our planet and could even cause the birth of life. About 4.5 billion years ago, something the size of Mars collided with a very young Earth, according to livescience.com. The collision with the planet led to an unexpected effect: the mysterious object not only merged with the Earth, but also broke off a large piece from it, which later became the Moon.
The remains of an ancient planet discovered
The giant collision hypothesis that gave rise to the moon is one of the most interesting theories regarding the origin of the planets of the solar system. Despite the plausibility of the idea, scientists for a long time did not have evidence that our night luminary can really be just a fragment of the ancient Earth, which appeared as a result of an enchanting cosmic catastrophe. Be that as it may, it seems that mankind has finally got the first clues of an ancient collision that are hiding right below the surface of our satellite.
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The hypothesis of Theia, a planet that died at the dawn of the formation of the solar system, has long been one of the most popular models for explaining the formation of the moon. It was this model that was able to take into account recent observations of samples returned by Apollo missions, which included an extremely low content of lunar iron particles compared to Earth. In addition, oxygen isotopes in lunar samples collected by Apollo astronauts were very similar to terrestrial isotopes of matter and were very different from the composition of oxygen particles at other objects in the solar system.
After analyzing the lunar samples collected in the highlands of the satellite, the planetologist Eric Kano and his colleagues found what no one expected: the isotopic composition of oxygen varied depending on the type of rock being studied. In addition, with depth, the isotopes became much heavier than on the surface, which could indicate that a piece of ancient Teija still remains intact in the bowels of the satellite.
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Despite the fact that Teia could once crash into the Earth, most likely, the ancient planet formed closer to the outer part of the Solar system, but for some reason migrated in the vicinity of the third planet from the Sun. Unable to cope with the gravitational attraction of a larger Earth, Teia crashed into our planet, but as a result of homogenization that occurred at the time of the planetary catastrophe, the oxygen isotopic composition was not completely lost, remaining almost in its original state until today.
Due to the fact that the last manned human expedition to the moon was made back in 1972, the precious lunar rocks needed by scientists to confirm the theory of Teija are in severe shortage, which significantly reduces the speed of the necessary research. Nevertheless, scientists promise that over the next few years we may finally see how the astronaut crews will make the long-awaited return to the lunar surface (unless, of course, the situation with coronavirus and a collapse of currencies around the world will affect the speed implementation of the planned space programs). If such positive events for science come true, we can hope for a real boom in the study of the Moon and its mysteries – including further research around the hypothesis of a colossal impact that gave our planet the necessary resources for the origin of life.