Scientists and astronomers believe that in the earliest ages of our Solar System – the Moon was somehow generated by a gigantic collision of two worlds. This is commonly known like the “Big Splat” (or the “Giant Impact Hypothesis”).
Around one hundred millions years after the birth of the Solar System, our planet and this interloper have experienced a an earth shattering impact, since two planets can’t really occupy the same orbit for very long without giving something.
The result was: the Earth-Moon System (as we know it!)
For very long time, people believed that Theia (the Mother of the Moon according to the Greek Mythology) merely side-swiped the Earth at a 45-degree (or greater) angle.
A team of scientists from UCLA has quashed this idea with their new research, and has shown that the Earth-Theia impact was just a head-on collision whose ultimate issue was actually the formation of two new co-orbiting planets.
This eventually led to the Earth and the Moon.
The evidence is coming in the form of oxygen isotopes – that are actually atoms with differing numbers of neutrons that are fossilized within the crustal rocks of the Moon and the Earth.
It is already known that the Earth, but also Venus, Mercury, Mars etc. are having unique complement of oxygen isotopes.
The crew of scientists were analyzing seven Moon rocks that have been returned from the missions Apollo 12, Apollo 15 and Apollo 17.
Edward Young, who is a professor of geochemistry at UCLA, said in the new paper:
“We don’t see any difference between the Earth’s and the moon’s oxygen isotopes; they’re indistinguishable.”
In order to make more precise measurements, the team of researchers were using very sophisticates techniques and technology.
So, what actually happened to all the water?
The implications of the study will have to be subject of some future research, but for now it is obvious that the material of Theia is evenly distributed throughout both the Moon and the Earth.
So, its not really a collision between Theia and the Earth, but rather a cosmic smash-up between Theia and some unknown planet that happened to occupy our current orbit back then.
The issue of what actually happened to all the water on the Earth is just another mystery that needs to be resolved. The collision vaporized whatever of it existed on either planet, but perhaps subsequent collisions with H20-bearing asteroids and comets have delivered the oceans that we have on Earth today.
So it appears that, the Solar system after all is still in the process of being born.