Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what’s clicking on Foxnews.com.
A new study suggests that the moon is a lot younger than initially believed.
Earth’s natural satellite is 4.425 billion years old, some 85 million years younger than the 4.51 billion years, according to researchers from the German Aerospace Center. The new age is based on the researchers reexamining the timeline of when the moon first formed.
Researchers have long believed the moon formed as a result of a cosmic collision between an Earth that was still forming and another planetoid, commonly known as Theia.
The moon is born. (Credit: Ron Miller)
“From this, the Moon was formed in a short time, probably in just a few thousand years,” one of the study’s co-authors, Doris Breuer, Head of the Planetary Physics Department at the DLR Institute of Planetary Research, said in a statement.
The researchers also noted that the moon had a magma ocean.
“This is the first time that the age of the moon can be directly linked to an event that occurred at the very end of the Earth’s formation, namely the formation of the core,” Thorsten Kleine, a professor at the Institute of Planetology at the University of Münster in Germany, added in the statement.
Magma ocean and first rocky crust on the moon. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)
In an effort to find the 85-million-year gap, the researchers used mathematical models to come up with the moon’s composition throughout its history, using the magma ocean as a base.
“By comparing the measured composition of the moon’s rocks with the predicted composition of the magma ocean from our model, we were able to trace the evolution of the ocean back to its starting point, the time at which the moon was formed,” study co-author Sabrina Schwinger, added.
The study has been published in Science Advances.
The moon has been a source of fascination for humanity for eons and since the Apollo space missions of the mid-20th-century, humanity’s knowledge about our celestial satellite has increased significantly.
Scientists recently learned that the moon loses water when meteoroids smack its surface, according to a study published in March 2019.
NASA’s ARTEMIS mission also revealed that solar winds greatly impact the lunar surface and expose it to radiation from the Sun, leaving scars on the surface, akin to a “sunburn,” due to the moon’s weak magnetic field.
A separate study published in August 2019 suggested the moon was 100 million years older than previously believed, basing their findings on analyzing the lunar rocks taken by the Apollo astronauts.