Today’s Video of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features a computer simulation of how the Moon may have formed. The research suggests that the Moon formed within a matter of hours after a collision between the Earth and a Mars-sized astronomical object called Theia.
Researchers at the University of Durham simulated hundreds of different possible impacts, varying the angle and speed of the collision, as well as the masses and speeds of the two colliding bodies. The simulations are some of the most detailed of their kind.
“This formation route could help explain the similarity in isotopic composition between the lunar rocks returned by the Apollo astronauts and Earth’s mantle. There may also be observable consequences for the thickness of the lunar crust, which would allow us to pin down further the type of collision that took place,” said study co-author Vincent Eke.
“This opens up a whole new range of possible starting places for the Moon’s evolution,” said study lead author Jacob Keggereis. “We went into this project not knowing exactly what the outcomes of these very high-resolution simulations would be. So, on top of the big eye-opener that standard resolutions can give you wrong answers, it was extra exciting that the new results could include a tantalizingly Moon-like satellite in orbit.”
Video Credit: NASA Earth Observatory