Tuesday, July 23, 2024

These radioactive crystals revealed the true age of the moon

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The moon was born from the struggle of two giants. A long time ago, a planet the size of Mars collided with us. The collision was so strong that part of the ancient Earth was thrown into space and mixed with fragments of the other planet, forming a small body around the Earth. Impact and friction turned that body into a spherical sea of ​​magma, which would cool over time to give rise to our Moon. The truth is that no matter how many details we know about this process, the truth is that we are not sure when it happened. By analyzing the composition of lunar and terrestrial rocks we can see that they both come from the same moment, but that is because lunar rocks are, for the most part, of terrestrial origin, due to the impact.. However, a group of researchers has found the key to determining the history of the Moon, and it is much older than we thought.

But before delving into this study, let us remember that the hypothesis that we narrated about the origin of the Moon is known as Theia, which is the name of the Mars-sized body that must have collided with it. We know this because after analyzing lunar debris returned by the Apollo missions, we have learned two things. The first is that The composition of lunar rocks is strangely similar to terrestrial rocksAs we said. The second is that There are indications of the influence of planetary dimensions. Thus, although other moons, such as those of our neighbor Jupiter, may have been captured during their journey through the universe, or may have appeared at the same time as the planet due to the “condensation” of two objects from the same protoplanetary disk, we can We suspect that this was not the case with our satellite.

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In order to correctly understand the new history of the Moon, we need to know other details. The result of this collision should be a young moon resembling a magma ocean. Any answer to the origin of our Moon must be able to explain three main points. The first is the speed at which the Moon revolves around us. This changes, among other things, depending on the angle at which the tea hits the ground. Second, there is the Moon’s mass, which depends on how much matter the impact would displace. Finally, there is the third clue: that the composition of that disk is consistent with the Apollo analyses.

OK then, If we imagine that Theia hit solid ground, we have a problem. I could not meet all these conditions at once. For the speed of the Moon around us to be correct, the tea must hit us at a very inclined angle, and this causes problems. In theory, much of the material ejected into the disk comes from tea, not from the ground, which does not fit our data. There had to be an alternative, and a few years ago, Another group of scientists reinforced the idea that the Earth, at the time of the impact, was at least largely molten.. Which makes us think that the resulting moon was like that.

What a joint team of researchers from the University of Chicago and Glasgow did was to analyze the composition of some moon crystals brought back by the Apollo missions. Because although the age of the rocks is 4,543 million years, it is clearly equivalent to the origin of the Earth and before the collision. The crystals could not have been present before the Tea Shock, as they would not have survived the magma due to the nature of these zircons.. So, by dating the crystals, we can tell that the Moon will be as old as it is (if not older).

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to date them, The scientists subjected the crystals to a mass spectrometer, which evaporated part of the crystal And analyze the proportion of different atoms that make up it. By knowing the percentage of some radioactive materials, we can estimate the age of the glass, as… It is like an hourglass in which the grains move from one container to another, and the radioactive materials are unstable and transform over time. Knowing the rate at which they decay, we can assume their ages. Among these conclusions are the researchers They discovered that the moon may be 40,000 years older than they thought..

This means that the Moon will be 441 thousand years old, which is approximately the same age as our planet. It is a surprising number, especially if we remember that the method of dating it is consistent with ancient monuments. We believe that perhaps the Moon will be discovered within a few years earlier than now..

Don’t be known:

  • Our Moon is key to the existence of life as we know it, because, among other things, it allows for tides like the ones we experience and stabilizes Earth’s movements. Which is why it’s interesting that it has been around almost since the formation of our planet.

References (MLA):

  • “4.46 Zircon Ga anchors chronology of lunar magma ocean” Geochemical Perspectives Letters
  • Hosono, N., Karato, C., Makino, J. et al. Terrestrial magma originates the ocean of the Moon. Nat Geosi.12, 418-423 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-019-0354-2
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