Once upon a time, about 4.5 billion years ago, the Earth was an unformed doughnut of molten rock called a synestia — and the moon was hidden in the filling.
That’s one possible explanation for the moon’s formation, anyway. And according to a new paper published today (Feb. 28) in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Planets, it may be the best explanation scientists have so far.
“The new work explains features of the moon that are hard to resolve with current ideas,” study author Sarah Stewart, a professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of California, Davis, said in a statement. “The moon is chemically almost the same as the Earth, but with some differences. This is the first model that can match the pattern of the Moon’s composition.”
The new lunar-creation model revolves around a hypothetical planetary object called a synestia, which Stewart and Simon Lock, a graduate student at Harvard University and co-author of the new study, first described in a paper published last year.
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