There has always been questions regarding the origins of the Earth's lone lunar orb and a recent study by German scientists strength notions about how the moon came about.
Analyses on chemical compositions through precise laser-based methods were conducted on the lunar rock samples brought home by Apollo mission astronauts over four decades ago have indicated a cataclysmic event between the Earth and Mars-sized planet.
The research showed a difference in the chemical make up between the rocks of the Earth and that of the Moon's . While further studies need to be conducted, this discovery strengthen's the theory that over 4.5 billion years ago, another planetary body, aside from the Earth were responsible for the formation of the Moon.
The traces of another "planet" referred to as Theia is believed to be the source of the different chemical signature on the moon's rocks. The name of the planetary object, Theia, was chosen based on its meaning in Greek mythology, Theia being the mother Selene the goddess of the moon, explains BBC.
The study, published Thursday by the journal Science, has major implications on one of the most enduring questions revolving the origins of the moon. It supports the idea that a giant impact of sorts occurred that resulted in the creation of the moon.
"This strengthens the evidence for a giant impact. That is very much the most likely process that formed the moon," quotes The Guardian of Andreas Pack, a geochemist who dealt with the rocks. "It was a long-lasting debate because we hadn't found any isotopic difference between the Earth and the moon."
Daniel Herwartz, the first author of the study shared that the next step was to know exactly how much material of Theia is actually in the moon. While previous estimations peg the percentages to be 70 per cent Theia and the rest that of Earth, the results indicate that it might be more of a 50-50 mix meaning the Moon is half Theia and half Earth.
"When everyone saw this work, we all breathed a huge sigh of relief," said Harvard University planetary scientist Sarah Stewart, who was not involved in the study. "In my mind, the giant impact hypothesis is still standing."