Billions of years ago there were more than just 8 (or is it 9?) planets in the solar system. Dozens, in fact. And as each giant bit of rock gradually fused with another, the major planets formed. At one point, an early Earth collided with a similar forming planet about the size of Mars named Theia. From this, our moon coalesced, possibly giving way for life on pale, blue dot. The previously theorized “sideswipe” impact said that Theia simply grazed the Earth, but a new study of rocks from the Apollo era has lead a UCLA research team to rethink that position.
A report from the UCLA Newsroom says the researchers analyzed moon rocks from Apollo-era missions as well as volcanic rock from Earth’s mantle, concluding that the oxygen molecules that should be different between the moon and the Earth are identical. This is rarely the case when observing differing bodies in the solar system, since each body typically has its own “fingerprint”.
We don’t see any difference between the Earth’s and the moon’s oxygen isotopes; they’re indistinguishable.” Edward Young, UCLA professor of geochemistry and cosmochemistry
This lead the team to the conclusion that the Earth and the moon are a well-mixed hybrid of the destruction caused during the Theia impact. Amazing. Check out the video below for a powerful visual on what the making of a moon entails.
(Source: UCLA Newsroom)