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The Moon Is Actually 85 Million Years Younger Than We Thought, Study Finds

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 17 Jul 2020 14:26
The Moon Is Actually 85 Million Years Younger Than We Thought, Study FindsThe Moon Is Actually 85 Million Years Younger Than We Thought, Study FindsPixabay

A study has found that the moon is 85 million years younger than we thought – making many of us who’d like to turn back the clock extremely jealous.

Previously the moon was thought to be created at a similar time to Earth, but scientists now believe it was created at the end of Earth’s formation.

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Scientists at the German Aerospace Center calculated how long it took the moon’s magma ocean to cool as it’s widely believed the moon’s lunar surface was once molten.

Full moonFull moonPixabay

Their findings estimate the moon was formed 100 million years later than previously thought making it 85 million years younger.

It’s said the moon was created after Earth was hit by protoplanet Theia while still developing. The collision sent large amounts of material from the planet’s mantle flying into space, which the moon was formed from.

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Part of an article on the German Aerospace Center’s website explains this further:

Four-and-a-half billion years ago, the Solar System was still a rather chaotic place. Earth was still growing to its present size, collecting matter in the form of what are referred to as ‘planetesimals’. These had previously formed in the disc of dust and gas orbiting the early Sun. The young Earth consolidated, becoming ever hotter inside.

Increasingly large parts of the rocky mantle melted and formed a magma ocean. It is at this time that Earth gained the natural satellite that continues to orbit around it to this day. A massive cosmic collision between Earth and a protoplanet resulted in rock being ejected from the young Earth. Eventually, this debris agglomerated to form a new planetary body – the Moon.

EarthEarthPexels

While scientists mainly agree on how the moon was formed, the date it was created has never been pinpointed.

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With this in mind, scientists used a new computer model to work out how long the process of solidifying magma takes in the hope of calculating its age.

Sabrina Schwinger, another co-author of the study, said:

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.

The study found it took 200 million years for the molten to cool making it around 4.425 billion years old; 85 million years younger than thought.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Science, Age, Earth, Moon, Now, Space

Credits

Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt German Aerospace Center
  1. Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt German Aerospace Center

    A slight­ly younger Moon