It is generally believed that billions of years ago the Earth faced a planet like the Earth, the size of which is similar to that of Mars, which created the Moon. Scientists have been building theories for decades on how this process has taken place, but it has not yet been possible to finally solve this mystery. However, another simulation has shown one of the likely options.
A new computer simulation conducted by scientists from the Ames Research Centre of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States showed that our planet's satellite could be formed in a matter of hours when the material from Earth and Teya went into orbit after their collision. The simulation of the study used spatial grids with the highest resolution. As a result, it was found that simulations using lower resolution spatial grids could miss important aspects of such collisions, thus distorting the overall picture.
An understanding of the origin of the Moon requires different knowledge of the satellite, its mass, the orbit of the elements present in it. On the basis of these data, scenarios have been developed that could lead to the formation of the Moon in its present state. In the past, the theory of the moon's appearance has explained certain aspects of the satellite's properties, such as mass and orbit, but with a number of serious reservations. One of the main riddles was how to explain the similarities between the composition of the Moon and the Earth. Scientists can study the material on its isotopic composition — the chemical key to how and where the object was formed. The samples of the moon ground that have been studied in laboratories have a similar isotopic signature with the Earth's rocks, unlike the samples of Mars or from other parts of the solar system. This may indicate that much of the material made up of the Moon was in the distant past part of the Earth.
The past simulations, in which Thea was scattered in orbit after the collision with our planet, and then mixed with a small amount of earth's material, now seem less plausible, in which case the likeness of the moon with the earth would not be so strong, unless Thea was similar in structure to the Earth, which is unlikely.
The new simulation showed that the moon could have been formed within hours of the impact of the Earth and Teya, rather than days or years as expected. To get closer to confirming or rebutting this theory, scientists will have to study the samples of the moon ground that must be delivered to our planet as part of the NASA moon programme. In addition to studying the satellite itself, these data will help to better understand how our planet has evolved to become what we now see it.