How a vaporized Earth might have cooked up the moon | Science News

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How a vaporized Earth might have cooked up the moon

New simulation suggests the moon formed when Earth turned into a squishy doughnut

10:36am, March 2, 2018
illustration of early Earth

COOKIN’ After colliding with a planet-sized rock, the early Earth may have existed as a hot cloud of vapor and rock (illustrated), from which the moon also may have formed. 

The moon might have formed from the filling during Earth’s jelly doughnut phase.

Around 4.5 billion years ago, something hit Earth, and the moon appeared shortly after. A new simulation of how the moon formed suggests it took shape in the midst of a hot cloud of rotating rock and vapor, which (in theory) forms when big planetary objects smash into each other at high speeds and energies. Planetary scientists Simon Lock of Harvard University and Sarah Stewart of the University of California, Davis proposed this doughnut-shaped planetary blob in 2017 and dubbed it a synestia (SN: 8/5/17, p. 5).

Radiation at the surface of this swirling cloud of vaporized, mixed-together planet matter sent rocky rain inward toward bigger debris. The gooey seed of the moon grew from fragments in this hot, high-pressure environment, with a bit of iron solidifying into the lunar

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