Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

It turns out the Earth is actually made up of two planets

crash.jpg

"Violent, head-on collisions" aren't usually conducive to forming new life, but ending it abruptly. Yet it turns out that an impact of world-changing proportions were crucial to the formation of the Earth as we know it.

Astronomers have long suspected that the Earth and our Moon came into formation in the superbly named event, the giant impact hypothesis: a planetary embryo called Theia, roughly the size of Mars, collided with a (relatively) young Earth around 4.5 billion years ago. By clipping the 100-million-year-old Earth, Theia would have formed debris that eventually clumped together to form the Moon.

Now, a new study by a team at UCLA has found evidence that this collision was far more violent than any previously theorised. 

Published in the journal Science, the team of geochemists and cosmochemists studied a number of Moon rocks collected by three of NASA's Apollo missions. The structure of the rocks was compared with volcanic rocks found in Hawaii and Arizona - which led to a surprising discovery.

"We don’t see any difference between the Earth’s and the Moon’s oxygen isotopes; they’re indistinguishable," said lead author Edward Young. "Theia was thoroughly mixed into both the Earth and the Moon, and evenly dispersed between them. This explains why we don’t see a different signature of Theia in the Moon versus the Earth."

Rather than becoming a distinct planet in its own right, Theia was destroyed entirely in this head-on collision, helping to form the Earth and Moon.

We owe you big time, Theia. 

(Image: NASA)

[Via: The Independent]

Related

starwars.jpg

Star Wars Episode IX could be filmed in actual space

2.jpg

Leading astronomer believes alien babies will replace us all by 2100

shutterstock_95167171.jpg

Russia has plans to stop Earth-bound asteroids with nukes

Comments

More

If you own any of these video games you're sitting on a fortune

Here's hoping you were a hoarder

by David Cornish
09 Dec 2016

iPhone 8 rumours suggest it'll have a revolutionary curved screen

And it could be coming out NEXT YEAR!!!

by Jamie Carson
07 Dec 2016

Amazon is launching checkout-free shop where you simply walk out

Goodbye stubborn self-checkout machine, hello freakishly smart tech

by Emily Badiozzaman
06 Dec 2016

The Last Of Us 2 and nine more new Playstation games set for 2017

A certain spin-kicking marsupial is back, too!

by Chris Sayer
05 Dec 2016

New app will allow you to check the potency of your sperm

Get to know your baby makers up-close and personal

by Chris Sayer
05 Dec 2016

WhatsApp is about to stop working for millions of smartphone users

And it's bad news for Nokia or Blackberry users

by Tom Fordy
02 Dec 2016

Delete yourself from the internet with this handy website

And just like that, he was gone.

by Sam Diss
28 Nov 2016

Get on ‘Sindr’ the Catholic Church’s confession app

Swipe to find God in your area

24 Nov 2016

Apple to replace faulty batteries on iPhone 6s devices

21 Nov 2016

These are the worst passwords on the web

Best check yours isn't one of them

17 Nov 2016