Astronomy

New Ideas about the Origin of the Earths Moon



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When you look into the night sky, you see the moon- large and brilliantly bright.  Have you ever wondered how it came to rest in the sky?  Scientists have a number of theories about the origin of the Earth’s lone satellite.  One such controversial idea is called the Big Splat Theory. Made popular by planetary scientists Wim van Westrenen and Rob de Meijer, the Big Splat theory offers new ideas about how the moon was formed.

A celestial hit and run

Professors de Meijer and van Westrenen propose that more than 4.5 billion years ago an object about the size of Mars collided with the Earth.  The object, called Theia, then merged with the Earth.  Debris from the collision was blown into the Earth’s orbit. Over time, gravity pulled the debris together to form Earth’s Moon.

Old ideas become newer

While the De Meijer and van Westrenen Splat theory is new, the idea that the Moon came about from planetary collision is not.  For some time, scientists have accepted the idea that some type of collision caused the formation of the Moon.  It had been believed that after some type of impact a small fragment of the Earth broke away and formed the Moon.

One other theory, which had once been popular, the Moon formed from the same celestial soup as the Earth.  When the Earth was a molten, spinning mass some of the matter spun off from the Earth and ultimately formed the moon.

Professors van Westrenen and deMeijer believes that his theory is distinguished from others in that he believes that massive, violent atomic explosions and reactions occurred during an Earth/Theia collision.  These nuclear events rocketed debris away from the Earth/Theia body and into space. Gravity cradled the fragments. Nuclear energy from the blast then helped the debris energize and form the Moon.

The proof is out there

Analysis of moon rocks has definitely linked the Moon’s origins to that of the Earth.  Still, the molten spin-off theory did not explain why the moon was not more like the Earth.  That theory also did not explain why the moon lacked specific elements, such as lead, potassium, sodium, and zinc.  Many believe that the newly proposed Splat Theory explains all this including why there are natural georeactors on Earth as well as special forms of helium and xenon exist on the moon. On of the strongest supports for the Big Splat theory is that the Earth itself is believed to be a giant natural nuclear power plant itself. And, if it’s true for the Earth,  it can be true for the other planetary neighbors, seen and unseen.

Beyond the Splat Theory

Scientists have found merit in the Splat Theory and have devised models which involve objects both larger and smaller than Mars. These modified theories consider differing speeds of the other heavenly body, number of collisions, and the Earth’s spin.

Still, there is much to explore as the scientific world attempts to prove (or disprove) Splat Theory. Until they do, we can still marvel at how incredible is Earth’s closest celestial neighbor.

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More about this author: Ramona Taylor

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ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS
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  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://science1.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2009/09apr_theia/
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/151966/Sir-George-Darwin
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://discovermagazine.com/2002/aug/cover