An artist’s rendering of the collision that created the moon (Paul Wootton/ /Science Photo Library/Corbis)
Scientists have announced that they had found evidence of the planetary body that slammed into the earth over four billion years ago, creating the moon.
In analyzing lunar rocks collected on the Apollo missions, they found that the moon rocks contained different ratios of oxygen isotopes 17 and 16 than their earthly counterparts, showing that some percentage of the moon likely had to come from somewhere else.
Daniel Herwartz, lead author of the study told Space.com:
“The differences are small and difficult to detect, but they are there,” Herwartz said. “We now get an idea of the composition of Theia.”
That was the name given to the Mars-sized planet in 2000 by Alex Halliday.
Most scientists 14 years ago had started to accept the giant impact hypothesis, first proposed in the 1970s, and when Halliday proposed calling the planet Theia, the name caught on.
But what people couldn’t figure out was where all the evidence for Theia had gone.
The earth and moon have very similar chemical compositions. So similar, if fact, that it’s been a huge puzzle for scientists trying to prove the Giant Impact Theory.
With this new research there is finally some difference. Or is there?
There is still considerable scientific research looking in to moon formation, along with a lot of debate, so it’s no surprise really that not everyone in the scientific community agrees that the differing oxygen isotopes are conclusive enough evidence for Theia.