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Traces of another planet found on the Moon


Posted on Friday, 6 June, 2014 | Comment icon 70 comments

The collision occurred 4.5 billion years ago. Image Credit: NASA / Joe Tucciarone
New evidence seems to confirm that the Earth was once impacted by a planet known as Theia.
It has long been believed that the Moon came in to being when a large planetary body struck the Earth billions of years ago and now scientists believe that they've found the clearest evidence yet that this event actually took place.

Traces of another planet have been found within the samples of lunar rock brought back by the astronauts during the Apollo Moon landings, a world that has been nicknamed Theia after the Goddess of Greek mythology.

This early world would have disintegrated on impact, with some of the material coalescing to form the Moon and the rest becoming part of the Earth.

"It was getting to the stage where some people were suggesting that the collision had not taken place," said lead researcher Dr Daniel Herwartz. "But we have now discovered small differences between the Earth and the Moon. This confirms the giant impact hypothesis."

Source: BBC News | Comments (70)

Tags: Moon, Planet, Earth, Theia

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #61 Posted by taniwha on 17 June, 2014, 11:31
I suppose it is possible for there to be some large icy bodies at the extremities of the solar system that might somehow get diverted into an orbit that leads it to collide with the earth, but that is not my understanding of what happened. The "Thea" object was rocky, not icy, and therefor formed much closer in. Another observation -- while a comet is not going to create another moon, let us hope we don't actually collide with one. They can still be pretty big. It would be a fearful sight and our end would be spectacular!
Comment icon #62 Posted by Emma_Acid on 17 June, 2014, 13:35
Yes it is the extreme end of the scale i refer to. My point was 20km is the extreme end of the scale. I wonder if this event didnt/ cant/wont ever happen in our solar system does that also rule out the possibility that comets cant form moons in other solar systems? I mean the physics are the same so im guessing, just for fun that the chance might be real, right? No, because as you point out the physics are the same. So we can safely assume that comets in other systems are the same size, and planets of a similar distribution and composition. What you're suggesting doesn't seem to have any reali... [More]
Comment icon #63 Posted by taniwha on 18 June, 2014, 8:51
My point was 20km is the extreme end of the scale. Estimates of Hale Bops nucleus is between 40 to 70 km. Or it may be counted as larger if it has a satellite nucleus. No, because as you point out the physics are the same. So we can safely assume that comets in other systems are the same size, and planets of a similar distribution and composition. What you're suggesting doesn't seem to have any realistic basis in this star system, so neither should it anywhere else. I don't know why you're fixating on this idea of comets creating moons when its so unfeasible? Obviously feasibility increases as... [More]
Comment icon #64 Posted by Frank Merton on 18 June, 2014, 8:57
It strikes me that the size differences being talked about are several orders of magnitude, not just a small multiple.
Comment icon #65 Posted by Emma_Acid on 18 June, 2014, 10:30
Estimates of Hale Bops nucleus is between 40 to 70 km. Or it may be counted as larger if it has a satellite nucleus. Actually Hale-Bopp was 30-40km across. The 70km claim was theoretical and not based on actual observation. Either way - even if it was 70km this is nowhere near the 400km you were talking about previously. Obviously feasibility increases as data is updated. The data needed to make your comet-moon scenario simply doesn't exist.
Comment icon #66 Posted by taniwha on 18 June, 2014, 11:12
Actually Hale-Bopp was 30-40km across. The 70km claim was theoretical and not based on actual observation. Either way - even if it was 70km this is nowhere near the 400km you were talking about previously. ...May-Oct. 1996 images of the comet from Hubble’s WFPC2 instrument show several bright spots quite close to the primary nucleus that change position from picture to picture, but move with the comet, not the star background. The brightest of these has an average signal-to-primary brightness ratio of 0.21 +/- 0.03, suggesting a satellite with diameter 30 km for a main nucleus size of about 70... [More]
Comment icon #67 Posted by Frank Merton on 18 June, 2014, 11:19
Taniwah, you really are a glutton for punishment. Might I suggest putting your speculations in the form of questions, such as, "Is this possible . . .?"
Comment icon #68 Posted by taniwha on 18 June, 2014, 11:38
Taniwah, you really are a glutton for punishment. Might I suggest putting your speculations in the form of questions, such as, "Is this possible . . .?"
Comment icon #69 Posted by Emma_Acid on 18 June, 2014, 11:43
The important part being... No, the important part is: In 1997 a paper was published that hypothesised the existence of a binary nucleus to fully explain the observed pattern of comet Hale–Bopp's dust emission observed in October 1995. The paper was based on theoretical analysis, and did not claim an observational detection of the proposed satellite nucleus. But as I said - this is a long long long way off the 400km you stated before. And I do find it amusing just how far away from the original point - the moon being created by a comet - this conversation has become. Before 1997 a Hale Bop siz... [More]
Comment icon #70 Posted by Harte on 18 June, 2014, 11:47
The original topic was "traces of another world found on the Moon," not "traces of a comet found on the Moon." Harte


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