One giant impact may not be responsible for Earth’s satellite
The moon is made of moons, new simulations suggest. Instead of a single colossal collision forming Earth’s cosmic companion, researchers propose that a series of medium to large impacts created mini moons that eventually coalesced to form one giant moon.
This mini-moon amalgamation explains why the moon has an Earthlike chemical makeup, the researchers propose January 9 in Nature Geoscience.
“I think this is a real contender in with the other moon-forming scenarios,” says Robin Canup, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., who was not involved in the new work. “This out-of-the-box idea isn’t any less probable — and it might be more probable — than the other existing scenarios.”
A collision between Earth and a Mars-sized object called Theia around 4.5 billion years ago is the current leading candidate for how