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Many tiny moons came together to form moon, simulations suggest

One giant impact may not be responsible for Earth’s satellite

By
11:00am, January 9, 2017
moon

MINI MOONS  The moon may have been formed by a series of medium to large impacts that created mini moons that merged, rather than from a single colossal impact.

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

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