Moon may be 85 million years younger than astronomers think it is, new study suggests

The commonly accepted hypothesis is that the Moon was formed from the debris of a collision between the Earth and a smaller planet called Theia.


A new study now suggests that Earth's satellite is about 85 million years younger than earlier.

According to a report in Science Alert, researchers say lunar rock samples collected on the Apollo missions are not old enough to verify the normally accepted thought that the Moon is 4.51 billion years old.

Earth's natural satellite was formed from debris created by a collision between the young Earth and a protoplanet. Image credit: Ron Miller

Earth's natural satellite was formed from debris created by a collision between the young Earth and a protoplanet. Image credit: Ron Miller

As per the report, the commonly accepted hypothesis is that the Moon was formed from the debris of a collision between the Earth and a smaller planet called Theia. The collision led to the spewing out of molten rock that eventually cooled down and solidified into one whole body that began orbiting the Earth.

This means that the rock that makes up the Moon came from Earth and can be used to date it. Now study now suggests that the Moon was created when the Earth was almost fully formed.

Space.com reported that researchers at the German Aerospace Center found out that, not only did the moon once have a massive, fiery magma ocean, but our rocky satellite also formed later than scientists previously expected.

According to new research, the moon's birth has been pegged at only 4.425 billion years ago.

One of the oldest Moon rocks Image credit: NASA

One of the oldest Moon rocks Image credit: NASA

The research team used mathematical models to calculate the composition of the moon over time. Basing their research on the idea that the moon was host to a massive magma ocean, researchers calculated how minerals that formed as the magma cooled and solidified over time.

As per a statement issued by study co-author Sabrina Schwinger, a researcher at the German Aerospace Center, "By comparing the measured composition of the moon's rocks with the predicted composition of the magma ocean from our model, we were able to trace the evolution of the ocean back to its starting point, the time at which the moon was formed."

Thorsten Kleine, a professor at the Institute of Planetology at the University of Münster in Germany added that this is the first time that the age of the moon can be directly linked to an event that occurred at the very end of the Earth's formation.

These findings were published in the journal of Science Advances.


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