Science Update – Earth-Moon system is two planets combined…

 

According to new research released by UCLA on January 29 the moon and the earth are made of the same stuff. Now you might not think that this is ground-breaking (dare I say earth-shattering) news, yet it is.

Many scientists thought the Earth collided with Theia (pronounced THAY-eh), a protoplanet, at an angle of 45 degrees or more in a powerful side-swipe (simulated in this 2012 YouTube video).

What the new data makes plain is that the earth and the moon are made from the same stuff.  This was identified through oxygen’s chemical signature revealed in seven analysed rocks brought to the Earth from the moon by the Apollo 12, 15 and 17 missions, as well as six volcanic rocks from the Earth’s mantle — five from Hawaii and one from Arizona.

Edward Young, lead author of the new study and a UCLA professor of geochemistry and cosmochemistry, and his team used the latest technology and techniques to make extraordinarily precise and careful measurements, and verified them with UCLA’s new mass spectrometer.

The fact that oxygen in rocks on the Earth and our moon share chemical signatures was very telling, Young said. Had Earth and Theia collided in a glancing side blow, the vast majority of the moon would have been made mainly of Theia, and the Earth and moon should have different oxygen isotopes. A head-on collision, however, likely would have resulted in similar chemical composition of both Earth and the moon.

You can read more about this cool discovery by heading over to:

  1. UCLA,
  2. the journal Science

 

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