For us, human beings, there’s no denying that millions of years sound like an eternity. But for the Universe, this amount of time is just like the blink of an eye. The portion of physical reality that we live in (aka the observable Universe) will live on for tens of billions of years. It’s already 13.7 billion years old.
Scientists had a pretty good and reliable idea of how old the Moon is, our natural satellite that has a significant influence in the development of life on Earth the way we know it.
85 million years younger
This is the conclusion that researchers from the German Aerospace Center have recently embraced. The general idea was that the Moon formed after a protoplanet smashed into the early Earth 4.51 billion years ago, releasing space debris that was later gathered together by gravity in order to form the brightest object from our night sky. The new study doesn’t come to ruin that hypothesis, except that it claims the collision to be occurring ‘only’ 4.425 billion years ago.
The research team used mathematical models for calculating the composition of our natural satellite over time. While the moon was hosting a magma ocean, the scientists calculated how the minerals solidified and changed. The co-author Sabrina Schwinger provides some explanations:
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,
There are still questions that remain unanswered about the Moon, like why didn’t astronomers go there anymore since 1972. Hopefully, the upcoming Artemis mission of NASA will be a success, and humans will return to our natural satellite.
The findings were presented recently in more detail within the journal Science Advances.