Home / Science / News /  Moon likely formed within hours due to a collision. Read here how

There are many theories regarding how Moon is formed. Most popular are the concepts that the moon is formed out of the debris of a collision, coalescing in orbit over months or years.

Another theory is the Moon may have formed immediately, in a matter of hours, when material from the Earth and Theia (an object about the size of Mars) was launched directly into orbit after the impact.

“This opens up a whole new range of possible starting places for the Moon’s evolution," said Jacob Kegerreis, a postdoctoral researcher at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, and lead author of the paper on these results published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. 

“We went into this project not knowing exactly what the outcomes of these high-resolution simulations would be. So, on top of the big eye-opener that standard resolutions can give you misleading answers, it was extra exciting that the new results could include a tantalisingly Moon-like satellite in orbit."

However, there's still no concrete theory regarding how the Moon was formed. 

There have been other theories proposed to explain these similarities in composition, such as the synestia model – where the Moon is formed inside a swirl of vaporized rock from the collision – but these arguably struggle to explain the Moon’s current orbit.

This faster, single-stage formation theory offers a cleaner and more elegant explanation for both these outstanding issues. It could also give new ways to find answers for other unsolved mysteries. This scenario can put the Moon into a wide orbit with an interior that isn't fully molten, potentially explaining properties like the Moon's tilted orbit and thin crust – making it one of the most enticing explanations for the Moon’s origins yet.

Getting closer to confirming which of these theories is correct will require analysis of future lunar samples brought back to Earth for study from NASA’s future Artemis missions. As scientists gain access to samples from other parts of the Moon and from deeper beneath the Moon’s surface, they will be able to compare how real-world data matches up to these simulated scenarios, and what they indicate about how the Moon has evolved over its billions of years of history.

Beyond simply learning more about the Moon, these studies can bring us closer to understanding how our own Earth became the life-harboring world it is today.

“The more we learn about how the Moon came to be, the more we discover about the evolution of our own Earth," said Vincent Eke, a researcher at Durham University and a co-author on the paper. “Their histories are intertwined – and could be echoed in the stories of other planets changed by similar or very different collisions."

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