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The moon is older than scientists thought

Essentially the most full and widespread idea on the formation of the Moon is named the "big affect speculation". This speculation exhibits that about 150 million years after the formation of the photo voltaic system, a planet the scale of Mars, referred to as Theia, collided with Earth. Though the scientific group has been discussing the chronology, we all know that this collision has melted Theia and a part of the Earth, and that the molten rock has turned across the Earth till it mingle with the moon.

However now, a brand new examine, with out contradicting the speculation of the enormous affect, suggests a special calendar and an older Moon.

New analysis by scientists on the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy at Cologne College means that the Moon is older than the enormous affect speculation. Their analysis relies on chemical analyzes of Apollo lunar samples and exhibits that the Moon solely fashioned 50 million years after the photo voltaic system, as an alternative of 150 million years in the past. . That is growing older the Moon 100 million years in the past.

That is necessary work as a result of understanding the age of the moon helps us perceive the age of the Earth. And this sort of examine can solely be accomplished with the rocks of the Moon, since they’ve hardly modified for the reason that second of formation. Terrestrial rocks have been subjected to geological processes for billions of years and don’t present the identical sort of immaculate formation as lunar rocks.

"The Moon thus presents a singular alternative to review the evolution of the planet."

Dr. Peter Sprung, Co-Writer, College of Cologne

The examine entitled "Early Moon Formation Derived from the Hfnium-Tungsten Systematics" is printed in Nature Geoscience.

The proof comes from the relations between two uncommon components: the halfnium (Hf) and the tungsten (W, it was previously referred to as wolfram). He’s within the portions of various chemical components current within the rocks of various ages.

Hafnium is a shiny steel that’s immune to corrosion. Picture Credit score: By Deglr6328 on the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA,

"By evaluating the relative quantities of various components within the rocks fashioned at completely different instances, it’s attainable to grasp the connection between every pattern and the inside of the moon and the solidification of the ocean magma" mentioned Dr. Raul Fonseca, of the College of Cologne. Collectively together with his colleague and co-author Felipe Leitzke, they’re doing laboratory experiments to review the geological processes which have occurred contained in the Moon.

After Theia hit the Earth and created a swirling cloud of magma, this magma sank and fashioned the Moon. After the collision, the newly born Moon was lined with magma. Because the magma cooled, it fashioned various kinds of rocks. These rocks comprise a hint of this cooling that scientists are attempting to get better. "These rocks have recorded info on the formation of the moon and might nonetheless be discovered as we speak on the lunar floor," says Dr. Maxwell Thiemens, a former researcher on the College of Cologne and senior writer of the # 39; examine.

A easy illustration displaying how the Moon is fashioned. Picture credit score: By Lemonade – Personal work, CC BY-SA,

There are black areas on the floor of the moon referred to as mares, which implies "seas" in Latin. These are giant formations of basaltic igneous rocks. The scientists behind the examine used the connection between uranium, halfnium and tungsten to grasp the fusion that created the mares of the moon. As a result of accuracy of their measurements, they recognized distinct traits among the many completely different rock suites.

A cylindrical projection of the moon displaying the black lunar mares. Picture Credit score: by picture processing carried out by the US Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona. – direct supply discovered right here, public area,

Halfnium and tungsten present scientists with a pure clock contained within the rock itself, since over time the isotope hafnium 182 disintegrated into tungsten 182. However this degradation didn’t final eternally; it solely lasted in the course of the first 70 million years of photo voltaic system life. The group in contrast the Apollo samples to their laboratory experiments and found that the Moon had already begun to solidify 50 million years after the formation of the photo voltaic system.

Tungsten has the best melting level of all metals and is utilized in many alloys. Picture credit score: de Alchemist-hp ( – Self-photographed, CC BY-SA from,

"This details about age signifies that any big affect should have occurred earlier than that date, which solutions a really controversial query within the scientific group in regards to the timing of the formation of the moon," provides Professor Carsten. Münker of the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy of UoC, lead writer. of the examine.

This picture exhibits what the collision between Earth and Theia may need appeared like. Picture: Hagai Perets

Peter Sprung, co-author of the examine, provides: "Such observations are not attainable on Earth as a result of our planet has been geologically lively over time. The Moon thus presents a singular alternative to review the evolution of the planets. "

It's superb that the rocks collected at Apollo 11 fifty years in the past nonetheless present proof of this type. The group's extraordinarily correct measurements are primarily based on inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, one thing inconceivable within the Apollo period. The astronauts who collected the samples couldn’t have recognized, however these rocks nonetheless train us not solely the moon, but in addition the age of the Earth.


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