The moon's birth may have temporarily vaporized the Earth

"It has changed our understanding of the early solar system, it's much more violent than we thought". The other theory, first proposed previous year, says that the impact was extremely violent, and that the entirety of the Earth's mantle was vaporized along with the impactor, causing material from the two objects to mix together and eventually coalesce into the moon as the proto-Earth re-formed. Proto-Earth was fiery and hot, and the surface was likely mostly molten lava from intense volcanic activity and frequent collisions with other rocks.

Speculation about the origin of our lunar companion has always been the focus of scientific inquiry.

Artist impression of early Earth impact with a planetary-sized body. In this stew, the biggest fragments of coalesce into moonlets, growing into a moon. Geologist Osmond Fisher just a few years later added the idea that the Pacific Ocean basin was the scar of that separation.

It states that the moon was formed by a grazing collision between the proto-Earth and a Mars-sized body called Theia.

The team behind the theory proposed that, as a by-product of the collision, both proto-Earth and the impactor would be enveloped in a silicate vapor atmosphere, which would act to facilitate the transfer of molten material to the impactor.

"These are the most precise measurements we can make, and they're still identical", Washington University in St. Louis geochemist Kun Wang said in a news release. "But chemically, this model has a lot of problems". Instead, the impact was extremely violent, pulverising most of Earth and the impactor, and turning them into a vapour. Those extremely high temperatures could have been caused by an extremely violent collision between the space rock and Earth.

However, over time, more accurate studies of the Moon's composition revealed it and Earth share much of the same chemical makeup, meaning the Moon contains more Earth material than previously thought.

A new study that analyzed isotopic differences in potassium contained in terrestrial and lunar rock samples is helping to shed light on the formation process that led to the creation of Earth's Moon.

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Nonetheless, being able to distinguish the tiny differences in the isotopes of the Earth and Moon rocks, in this case potassium isotopes, has been limited by current analytical capabilities. Potassium-41 is heavier than potassium-39.

The moon rocks are host to a heavier isotope of potassium when compared to what is on Earth. This theoretical model is so new that it has only been described in conferences and has yet to be published in a scientific paper. The chances of the two colliding bodies having the same signatures in their isotopes naturally is nearly zero, which meant that the masses of the two rocks had to substantially mix together before forming the moon. The whole system was swirling with vaporized debris.

Simulations showed such a scenario would take too long to account for the isotopic similarities, as the moon would have formed fairly quickly from the condensed magma in the wake of the impact.

Sometimes, when these three bodies line up, the Earth's shadow blocks the sunlight from falling onto the surface of the moon. It could match many physical characteristics of the Earth-moon system but not their geochemistry.

We used to think this object, Theia, struck a glancing blow and was captured into Earth orbit as our new moon.

In response, scientists came up with a new model which proposes a silicate atmosphere encircled both objects in the aftermath of the impact.

Dr. Canup suggests that Wang and Dr. Jacobsen are getting ahead of themselves by ascribing their data to this model. "The old models just could not explain the new observations".

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