The Moon was formed 4.51 billion years ago, only 50 million years after the formation of the solar system according to a new study by researchers at the University of Cologne. This is a period placed sensibly before that previously estimated by some theories according to which our natural satellite would have formed about 150 million years after the formation of the solar system.
Researchers analyzed samples of the lunar surface brought to Earth following NASA’s Apollo missions. We are talking about various kilos of lunar samples, many of which have not yet been analyzed in depth, which contain numerous traces of evidence concerning the formation of the Moon despite having been found from the surface.
In particular, they analyzed the chemical signatures of different elements, including hafnium and tungsten, present in these rocks, elements that were formed at different times and also indicate the solidification of the magmatic ocean, as stated by Raúl Fonseca, one of the researchers involved in the study together with his colleague Felipe Leitzke.
These new data do not refute the theory regarding the formation of the Moon following an enormous clash between the Earth and another planetary body the size of Mars, and indeed probably corroborates it. Following this clash the debris that formed then went on to form the Moon which was initially covered by a vast magmatic ocean composed of rocks that had melted during the impact.
The rocks began to solidify relatively early, already 50 million years after the formation of the solar system itself. These are the same rocks that today can be found on the surface of the Moon, as Maxwell Thiemens, the lead author of the study, states.
These are observations that here on Earth, where a similar magmatic ocean was present, are no longer feasible due to our geology more alive than ever. It is therefore a “unique opportunity to study planetary evolution,” as Peter Sprung, another author of the study, states.