New research sheds light on the origin of the Moon, proving its native noble gases derived from the Earth’s mantle.
The discovery is a key element to the puzzle of how the Moon, and perhaps even the Earth and other celestial bodies, were created.
ETH Zurich’s research team findings are presented in a study that was recently published in the journal Science Advances. These findings demonstrate that the moon attained its native helium and neon from the Earth’s mantle and further supports the “Giant Impact” theory.
The “Giant Impact” theory posits that the moon was created by a significant collision between Earth and another celestial body.
Patrizia Will examined six lunar meteorite samples from a NASA-obtained Antarctic collection as part of her dissertation work at ETH Zurich.
Will and the team found that the glass particles still contain the helium and neon chemical traces of the moon’s interior. Their results provide compelling evidence that the moon inherited the Earth’s native noble gases.
“Finding solar gases, for the first time, in basaltic materials from the moon that are unrelated to any exposure on the lunar surface was such an exciting result,” says Will.
Earlier Theories for the Origin of the Moon
An earlier impact theory contends that rain of microscopic debris landed on Earth and later created the Moon. This theory was first proposed by Israeli experts in 2017.
“The multiple-impact scenario is a more natural way of explaining the formation of the [Moon],” the lead author of the study and researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, Raluca Rufu, told Space.com.
“In the early stages of the solar system, impacts were very abundant; therefore, it is more natural that several common impactors formed the [Moon], rather than one special one,” Rufu added.
A 2012 theory also posited by researcher Robin Canup of the Southwest Research Institute in Texas claimed that Earth and the Moon formed simultaneously when two enormous objects collided and smashed into one another. These objects were each five times the size of Mars.