New Evidence to Moon Formation Theory


The creation of universe holds a lot of mysteries that have yet to be solved. Scientists come and go with new theories or new evidences regarding various things in the solar system. The moon is one thing that intrigues many scientists. There are many theories of how the moon was formed. Amongst those theories, one theory suspects that moon was formed by a collision of earth and astronomical object in size of a planet approximately 4.5 billion years ago. Most of scientists in planetary science believe that moon was formed from this impact billions years ago. This astronomical object in a size of planet is named Theia by the scientists.

There are reasons behind this theory and evidence has been found through researches. New evidence found by scientists supports the theory even further. The new evidence is about the ratios of isotopes. The evidence is found by studying the ratios between isotopes of titanium, silicon, oxygen and the others. The various ratios of isotopes will be varied throughout solar system. However, there is a close similarity found in earth and moon. It conflicted with the theoretical models of collision that gives a hint to the possibility of moon mostly come from Theia, and thus expected to have different composition from earth.


Now, Dr. Daniel Herwartz leads a group consisted with German researchers to study furthermore the possibility of Moon to come from Theia. The team used the more refined techniques in order to compare the 170/160 ratios in the lunar samples. The lunar samples used by the team arrived on earth from meteorites. However, these samples has exchanged isotopes with earth’s water, there is a search for the fresher samples. These fresher samples are provided by NASA and shipped along the missions of Apollo 11, 12 and 16. These samples show the 170/160 in higher levels than the samples found around the earth.

The differences are actually small and quite difficult to be detected but those differences exist. That was what Dr. Herwartz stated. From this founding alone, there are two things to be studied further. The first thing is supporting the theory of collision furthermore. There are enough reasons for that. The second thing is about a new knowledge of Theia’s geochemistry. It seems like Theia actually has the E-type chondrites that many scientists know. If this is something true, scientists will be able to predict the composition of geochemical and also isotope of moon because the moon we know now is the mixture of earth and Theia.

The next goal for the scientists has been set. It is to find out more about the composition of moon. How much material comes from Theia and how much material comes from earth? In most models of moon, the estimation of moon composition will be around 70% to 90% moon composition comes from Theia. Meanwhile, earth may have about 30% to 10% material in moon composition. In some models, it is argued about the amount of Theia is might be as little as 8% in the composition of moon. However, the new data brought by Dr. Herwartz suggest that there is a possibility of 50:50 in the moon composition. However, this will still need to be studied further.

The team of scientists used the more advanced preparation technique for samples before finally come to measure the samples by using the stable mass spectrometry of isotope ratio. It shows the difference of 12 part per one million found in 170/160 ratio of earth and moon. It is interesting to find out more and study about the theory of the moon composition further.

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