New evidence has come to light which seems to indicate that Earth once endured a colossal impact with another planet.
It has been theorized for many years that the moon came to form after an impact of massive scale between the Earth and another planet, which scientists have now named Theia, after the Goddess from Greek mythology.
Analysis of rocks brought back from the moon shows traces of the planet Theia, having researchers claiming that it all but confirms their long standing theory since the 1980’s of the incredible collision occurring approximately 4.5 billion years ago.
It is thought that the planet disintegrated on impact, and the resulting debris formed our moon as we know and love it today. Earlier analysis had indicated that moon rock was formed from materials of Earth, however with more advanced research techniques now available, research now shows evidence of otherworldly debris.
According to the lead researcher, Dr Daniel Herwartz, from the University of Goettingen, no-one has found definitive evidence for the collision theory, until now.
“It was getting to the stage where some people were suggesting that the collision had not taken place,” he told BBC News.
“But we have now discovered small differences between the Earth and the Moon. This confirms the giant impact hypothesis.”
The difference however could be explained by material absorbed by the Earth after the Moon formed, some believe.
Professor Alex Halliday of Oxford University is surprised by the very small difference between the Earth and the Moon’s/Theian material.
“What you are looking for is a much bigger difference, because that is what the rest of the Solar System looks like based on meteorite measurements,” he said.
Dr Herwartz measured the difference in the isotopic composition of the oxygen contained in rocks on Earth and the Moon. This is the ratio of different forms of oxygen.
Studies of meteorites from Mars and the outer solar system show that these ratios are markedly different – comparable to a fingerprint. This in turn leaves Professor Halliday and others puzzled by the fact that the fingerprints of Earth and Theia seem almost identical.
Original Article: BBC