Plot Twist: Moon Formed Within Hours Instead of Millions of Years
Around 4.5 billion years ago, the young Earth witnessed a violent impact. It collided with an ancient Mars-sized protoplanet called Theia. The impact was so powerful that it created an enormous debris field out of which the Moon formed. This is known as the giant impact hypothesis or the Big Splash. Calculations suggest that Theia might have hit the Earth at a velocity of 9.8 km/s at an angle of 45 degrees.
The collision would have sent a shockwave around the Earth over the next few hours and created a debris field out of which the Moon eventually formed over the next millions of years. While there’s a lot of evidence to support this hypothesis, scientists have found another fascinating thing about it. New NASA simulations show the Moon might have formed within hours from the debris field instead of millions of years. If it turns out to be accurate, it will be a ground-breaking discovery regarding our natural satellite.
But how did astronomers arrive at this conclusion? How could such a catastrophic collision form the Moon in mere hours? Finally, and most importantly, what happened moments after the collision that instantly created something as big as the Moon?
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