From Hanneke Weitering at LiveScience:
Earth’s moon may be the product of many small moonlets that merged after multiple objects as big as Mars collided with Earth, leaving disks of planetary debris orbiting the planet, a new study suggests.
This idea that multiple impacts led to the moon’s birth challenges the most prevalent theory of lunar formation, which suggests that one giant impact led to the formation of the moon. More.
See also: Space.com: Scientists finally know how old Moon is What’s surprising, really, is how little we know about the moon in general.
And various current theories:
Another moon origin theory: Epic crash
How the Moon Formed: 5 Wild Lunar Theories (Mike Wall at Space.com, 2014)
Our moon formed in collision with embryo planet?
Origin of the moon still shrouded in mystery
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2 Replies to “Moon formed from smashed moonlets?”
What would happen if the moon broke up?
I’m sticking with the single large collider at an impossibly precise speed and angle.
Venus has no tectonic plates because it’s crust is too think. Earth’s crust was also too think until the collision managed to: 1) knock the crust off both planets, leaving Earth with only half as much and producing Moon which is almost solid crust. 2) the collider’s entire iron core was swallowed by Earth, giving Earth a double-sized magnetic core to produce the van Allen Belts and leaving Moon with no magnetic core at all.
Multiple smaller collisions would not have produced the drastic changes to the 2 bodies. But, hey, if you’re an astro-geologist and you’re looking for grants to cushion your retirement, ya need to sell a new idea or 2. Even if it doesn’t make sense.