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Space & Astronomy

Did the Earth once have two moons ?

By T.K. Randall
July 7, 2013 · Comment icon 22 comments



Image Credit: sxc.hu
It is believed that there was more than one moon in orbit around the Earth shortly after its formation.
The Earth the Moon are thought to have formed somewhere between 30 and 130 million years after the formation of the solar system around 4.6 billion years ago. During that process it is quite possible that more than one moon formed around the planet and that the moon we see today is actually the result of a collision between the two.

"The second moon would have lasted for only a few million years; then it would have collided with the moon to leave the one large body we see today," said Professor Erik Asphaug. "It would have orbited Earth at the same speed and distance and just got slowly sucked in until they hit and then coalesced."
The Earth’s moon may once have not been on its own, according to lunar scientists. The smaller ‘twin’ moon is believed to have only survived a few million years before it collided with the one we see today to leave just one.


Source: Telegraph | Comments (22)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 10 years ago
I don't see why we couldn't of had two moons at some stage. Who knows, maybe even three or four smaller ones. Even little Mars has two. We had a second (natural) moon, albeit temporarily, as recently as 2007. The asteroid 2006 RH120 entered Earth orbit in 2006, made 4 orbits and was then ejected again. It's very temporary nature as a second moon means that it is not really regarded as such and is designated an asteroid.. An object called J002E3 was discovered orbiting the Earth in September 2002 and was ejected again in June 2003, however this is believed to be man made, probably the third sta... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by d e v i c e 10 years ago
We had a second (natural) moon, albeit temporarily, as recently as 2007. The asteroid 2006 RH120 entered Earth orbit in 2006, made 4 orbits and was then ejected again. It's very temporary nature as a second moon means that it is not really regarded as such and is designated an asteroid.. An object called J002E3 was discovered orbiting the Earth in September 2002 and was ejected again in June 2003, however this is believed to be man made, probably the third stage of the Apollo 12 Saturn V mission from 1969. It may enter Earth orbit again in 2032. Finally there is an object called 6Q0B44E which ... [More]
Comment icon #15 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 10 years ago
That's very interesting and eye opening too. Thanks very much Waspie_Dwarf. Apart from J002E3 it was stuff I didn't know either. You learn something new every day.
Comment icon #16 Posted by shrooma 10 years ago
have people stopped calling cruithne our `2nd moon` now then....? poor thing seems to have gone theway of pluto! 'alas poor cruithne, we knew him briefly.....' :-)
Comment icon #17 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 10 years ago
have people stopped calling cruithne our `2nd moon` now then....? poor thing seems to have gone theway of pluto! 'alas poor cruithne, we knew him briefly.....' :-) Astronomers never did. It is not in Earth orbit so, by definition, is not a natural satellite. It orbits the sun in a resonant orbit with Earth.
Comment icon #18 Posted by shrooma 10 years ago
i know they didn't Waspie, i heard the alarm go off every time alan davis mentioned it on QI..... :-)
Comment icon #19 Posted by Lex540 10 years ago
impossible unrealistic
Comment icon #20 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 10 years ago
impossible unrealistic Would you care to elaborate? Could you share the data you used to come to this conclusion? As Professor Erik Asphaug (who, incidentally is a leading expert on asteroids, comets and impacts) won't be giving details about his hypothesis until September I don't see how you can discount it as unrealistic when you don't even know what it is you are discounting.
Comment icon #21 Posted by JMPD1 10 years ago
Fascinating theory, I'll have to look Professor Asphaugs paper in September. Highly likely, in my humble opinion, since the young solar system was full of matter, and small bodies would be accreting loose material and then losing it in collisions with other bodies.
Comment icon #22 Posted by spud the mackem 10 years ago
It's called research and it is why we have, as a species, accumulated a vast wealth of knowledge. Forgive me spud, I seem to have missed the vote when you got elected to speak for humanity on what everyone cares about. Just because you neither know or care do not presume that all of us believe that ignorance is bliss. Well given you previous statement that no one knows or cares what happened millions of years ago I suspect not. However if you were able to present a compelling case for your argument and back it up with evidence maybe. Hi Waspie, Re your reprimand (no hard feelings),I Don't care... [More]


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