For about fifty years, astronomers have embraced a theory on the formation of the Moon that foresees the entry of Theia on the scene. This would have been an ancient proto-planet about the size of Mars that would crash into Earth. From the debris formed by the collision, after millions of years, our satellite would have formed.
But now a new hypothesis is taking hold, a theory that thanks to a simulation has reconstructed the formation of the satellite as an event lasting a few hours. The impact would have ripped a piece off the Earth, which would become the Moon upon entering orbit.
“Missions and studies like these and many more constantly help us rule out more possibilities and narrow down the actual history of both the Moon and the Earth, and to learn more about how planets are formed throughout and beyond our solar system,” he said. said Jacob Kegerreis, a computational cosmologist at Durham University in England.
The question that guided the research was: if the Moon is mainly composed of Theia, why do many of its rocks have striking similarities to those found here?
To study different possible scenarios for the formation of the Moon following the collision, the authors of the new study turned to a computer program called SPH With Inter-dependent Fine-grained Tasking (SWIFT), designed to closely simulate the complex and in continuous evolution of the gravitational network and hydrodynamic forces acting on large quantities of matter.
According to Kegerreis, for gigantic impacts the standard simulation resolution is usually between 100,000 and 1 million particles, but in the new study, he and his fellow researchers were able to model up to 100 million particles.
“The more we learn about how the Moon was born, the more we discover the evolution of our Earth,” study co-author Vincent Eke, associate professor of physics at Durham University, said in a statement. “Their stories are intertwined and may be echoed in the stories of other planets changed by similar or very different collisions.”
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