Formation of the Moon -Recent Research using Simulation

Recently, some researchers from Durham University have developed supercomputer simulations that show how the Moon may have been formed through the ancient collision.

Key Points

  • As per most of the astronomers, the Moon was formed due to the collision of Earth with a Mars-sized planet called Theia.
  • This collision took place around 4.5 billion years ago.
  • The velocity of Theia, its rotational rate, and angle of impact has affected the collision.
  • Researchers tested various possible conditions, ranging from no spin to a quick rotation.
  • The result of the collision with a non-spinning version of Theia was a satellite with about 80% of the mass of the Moon. When just a small amount of spin was added to it, the result was a second Moon in orbit around Earth.
  • The astronomers found a self-gravitating clump of material among the resulting debris disc in some impacts. It is approximately the mass of the Moon and contains around 1% iron similar to the Moon.
  • The researchers suppose that as the proto-Moon settled on the orbit around the Earth; it grew by collecting debris from the surrounding space. This body was seen developing a small iron core. This core was surrounded by material from both the early Earth and Theia. This is similar to what we see on the Moon.

The scientists suggest that the Moon was much closer to the Earth than it is today but gravitational forces between the Earth and the Moon resulted in the Moon moving further away.