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Here's How Moon Was Formed

Update Date: Jun 07, 2014 05:51 PM EDT
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Moon was created by a collision between the Earth and a Mars-sized body, according to a new research. The research is based on the Apollo rocks brought to the Earth by astronauts four decades ago. 

According to the research, a planetary object, Theia, might have subjected Earth to a glancing blow during collision that occurred 4.5 billion years ago. Researchers believe that the collision raised large quantities of debris into orbit around the Earth forming a ring system around the Earth for a short time. 

Eventually, the debris coalesced into the moon. 

Researchers performed a new method of chemical analysis and determined that the rocks obtained from the lunar surface had a slightly different composition that would be expected of the terrestrial samples. 

"We have developed a technique that guarantees perfect separation [of oxygen isotopes from other trace gases]. The differences are small and difficult to detect, but they are there," Daniel Herwartz of the University of Cologne in Germany, told to Reuters. 

The first to point out a difference in isotopes between rocks from the moon and Earth. 

"[T]he lunar samples had an O-17 to O-16 ratio that was 12 parts per million higher than rocks derived from Earth's mantle," researchers wrote in the article announcing their findings.

Based on this discovery, researchers believe that 30 percent to 50 percent was once part of Theia. However further studies are needed as the differences are so slight. 

"The differences are small and difficult to detect, but they are there," explained team lead Daniel Herwartz. "This means two things; firstly we can now be reasonably sure that the giant collision took place. Secondly, it gives us an idea of the geochemistry of Theia.

The analysis has been published in the journal Science

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