The formation of the Earth has always fascinated scientists. Have you ever wondered how Earth was formed? Numerous theories have been supported throughout the centuries in order to explain how our beautiful planet came to life. Recently, a new research has been published in “Science” magazine. If this new theory is confirmed, it will certainly change our understanding of the formation and evolution of our planet.
According to astronomers, there is evidence that the Moon was formed after a small planet smashed headfirst into Earth. This happened about 4.5 billion years ago. This collision was so violent that the small planet that crashed on Earth, the ‘planetary embryo’ called Theia, ended up fusing with both Earth and the Moon.
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, analyzed seven lunar rocks brought back to Earth by the Apollo missions, as well as six volcanic rocks from Earth’s mantle. They examined which oxygen isotopes the rocks contained. In other words, they counted the number of protons and neutrons in oxygen atoms. This is important because the rocks on each planetary body in our solar system have a unique ‘fingerprint’ ratio of oxygen isotopes that can be used to find out where they came from. The identical oxygen isotopes of the Earth and the Moon gave the researchers the answer they were looking for.
“We don’t see any difference between Earth’s and the Moon’s oxygen isotopes; they’re indistinguishable,” said Edward Young, head of research. “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 Earth”.
These findings support a theory proposed in 2012. According to it, Theia and Earth were actually involved in a head-on collision, during which they fused together. The information about Theia is limited. Young and his team say that this small planet was equal in size to Earth while other scientists believe that it was closer to Mars. Learning more about this planet would be extremely interesting and researchers are constantly trying to find out more.
The mystery of the formation of our planet will always be a challenge for the scientists. Advanced technology research provides us with more and more information and new theories are being developed. That gives us hope that humans will someday answer the question of how our home planet was formed.