Scientists have found that the earth is actually made up of two planets.
Experts now say that earth was formed when two planets came together in a head-on collision. The collision was so violent that it formed the moon, according to the Telegraph.
4.5 billion years ago, the younger earth was hit by a smaller planet called Theia. Such was the force of the hit that the planets fused, creating the Earth as we know it today. A small piece broke off during the impact and formed the moon.
Scientists had already known about Theia (pronounced THAY-eh) and the collision, but had previously thought that Theia hit earth at an angle of 45 degrees or more — a powerful side-swipe or “graze.” In fact, it was thought that the Moon was created when Theia grazed the Earth and broke up. It was believed that a small chunk of Theia was caught in Earth’s gravity.
Thus, scientists had always expected to find that the moon had a very different chemical composition to the earth, because it was made up predominantly of Theia.
There was some alarm when scientists examined some moon rocks and found that their oxygen isotopes are the same as earth’s.
This has led scientists to revise their theory. Rather than merely grazing the earth, Theia must have collided with it and knocked a piece of the earth out, according to Science Daily.
“New evidence reported Jan. 29 in the journal Science substantially strengthens the case for a head-on assault.
"We only have one planet," the environmentalists say. LIARS. https://t.co/nHJJyWdDNM— James Taranto (@jamestaranto) January 29, 2016
UCLA professor Edward Young from the University of California, who is the lead author of the new study, spoke to reporters about the moon’s origins.
“We don’t see any difference between the Earth’s and the Moon’s oxygen isotopes; they’re indistinguishable.”
"Earth is actually two planets, scientists conclude" I'd like to move to the other one now please. https://t.co/WhbfBuNEyn— Glenn Whidden (@GlennWhidden) January 30, 2016
The Earth is actually two planets formed from a cataclysmic collision, scientists discover. https://t.co/Gt9KNyUP4Q— James Montague (@JamesPiotr) January 30, 2016
I just wanna remind everyone that this is the single coolest nature article nobody's talking about https://t.co/rP57TfYkwt— Aaron Linde (@aaronlinde) January 31, 2016
Professor Young also spoke about what would have happened to Theia if it had not slammed head-on into the young Earth.
“Theia probably would have become a planet if the crash had not occurred”
Young’s team of researchers analyzed seven rocks brought back to Earth by the Apollo 12, 15 and 17 missions. The team also examined six volcanic rocks from the Earth’s mantle — five from Hawaii and one from Arizona.
More than 99.9 percent of Earth’s oxygen is O-16 (each atom contains eight protons and eight neutrons.) There also are small quantities of the heavier oxygen isotopes O-17 and O-18, which have one extra neutron and two extra neutrons respectively.
Previous studies comparing Earth, Mars and other planetary bodies in our solar system found that each planet has a unique oxygen isotope “fingerprint” ie. a unique ratio of O-17 to O-16.
The new finding that the moon does not have a unique fingerprint — rather, it has the same isotope fingerprint as the earth — significantly strengthens the case that Theia and young earth fused, rather than grazing.
As to the question of “where” the remnants of Theia may now be found, scientists answered that the fusion was so thorough — and happened so long ago — that the question does not really make sense.
“Theia was thoroughly mixed into both the Earth and the Moon, and evenly dispersed between them.”
[Photo By 3DMaestro/Shutterstock]