Radiation from an early Earth that glowed like a star would have vaporized metal to form air layer
NASA, GSFC, MIT, LOLA
The infant moon may have had a thick metal atmosphere, where supersonic winds raised waves in its magma ocean.
That’s the conclusion of a new simulation that calculates how heat from the young sun, the Earth and the moon’s own hot surface could have vaporized lunar metals to give the moon an atmosphere as thick as Mars’. The model, reported online June 22 at arXiv.org, offers a way to test theories of how the moon formed and suggests how researchers could study exoplanets without leaving Earth’s own neighborhood.
Most planetary scientists think the moon formed when a Mars-sized protoplanet slammed into the Earth around 4.5 billion years ago. The collision threw hot, molten material into Earth’s orbit, which coalesced and eventually cooled into the moon.
At first, though, the moon would have been covered in a deep, global ocean of hot liquid rock. The postcollision Earth would have