The Moon may actually be 85 million years younger than previous believed as a new study on the natural satellite’s magma ocean offers new insight into the age of Earth’s closest celestial neighbour. It was earlier believed that the Moon may be 4.51 billion years old, formed nearly 60 million years after the formation of the solar system. However, a new study suggests that the Moon may have formed 4.425 billion years ago.
The Moon is believed to have been formed when the Earth was hit by Theia, a protoplanet nearly the size of Mars. The term protoplanet is used to refer to a large body of matter which orbits around a star or the Sun and believed to be slowly developing into a planet. No recorded signs of Theia were noted years after the clash. The impact led to the formation of the Moon, which at the time was covered by a gigantic ocean of magma.
In a research led by the German Aerospace Center, scientists used a new computer model to help determine how long it took for the magma ocean to cool down and crystallize. It was discovered that the process took nearly 200 million years to complete, leading to the formation of solid mantle rock. The time scale is much longer than calculated in previous studies, said study co-author Nicola Tosi. Older models gave a solidification period of only 35 million years.
This new development goes against earlier studies that dated the Moon back to 4.51 billion years, claimed by a 2017 study led by researchers at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). As the new data was revealed, the formation of the Moon is now expected to be around 4.425 billion years ago, making the satellite around 85 million years younger.
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