Breakthrough Theia evidence has been brought to light this week, as a new analysis of moon rocks retrieved by astronauts on the Apollo are being used to verify the giant impact theory. While these moon rocks may have been gathered over four decades ago, it seems that our lovely moon may actually have been born from planet Earth over 4.5 billion years ago — after being slammed by a foreign space object, Theia. NPR News shares the fine points involved in this key theory and what this latest can bring to the lunar table this Friday, June 6, 2014.
Most of this newfound evidence regarding Theia relates back to the giant impact theory, which is the belief that a foreign space object crashed into Earth billions of years ago, breaking off a large fragment of our planet and creating the moon. What’s more, a deeper study of rocks first taken in by the Apollo on the moon actually reinforces this theory, making it all the more plausible in one immense collision of the distant past.
Under the pretenses of this impact theory, initially speculated back in 1985, the solar system at this time (roughly 4.5 billion years ago in history) was a hectic mess. Humongous bits of rock and space material would soar through space and occasionally crash into one another. It seems that one of these hunks of rock, called Theia, might have hit our very own planet Earth in this much younger time. Essentially, it could have crushed our planet nearly in two.
From this point on, relays Geekosystem News in their planetary coverage, the resulting mass of this space-set demolition derby was drawn in by Earth’s sense of gravity, eventually becoming our moon. With Theia evidence only strengthened by this finding, it’s quite a monumental discovery for not only space experts, but solar system aficionados as well.
According to research from the team of German scientists investigating the structure of these acquired moon rocks, the moon’s structure might very well be a roughly equal balance of Earth material and material from Theia. (For anyone wondering where the name Theia itself derives from, just as many of our planet names originate from historic mythology, Theia was the name of a Greek goddess thought to be the very mother of our moon.)
At 50 percent earth and 50 percent foreign rock material, our moon strangely fits our human perception of it — something intimately connected with earth, yet still alien and its own mass at the same time. The report offers these quotes from the “Science” Journal study regarding the Apollo’s moon rock discovery and evidence:
"[The] analysis of lunar rock samples from three Apollo missions ... has revealed distinct isotopic differences with terrestrial rock. Scientists believe these differences are remnants of the original [Theia].”
"Ostensibly, the differences are small and difficult to detect, but they are there. 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,' said Daniel Herwartz of George August University in Gottingen, Germany, lead author of the study."
It seems that there is some definite possibility to this moon-impact theory, after all, and scientists look forward to investigating the implications of this finding in the near future.
"It was getting to the stage where some people were suggesting that the collision had not taken place," a researcher involved with the study shared with a national news source. "But we have now discovered small differences between the Earth and the Moon. This confirms the giant impact hypothesis."