Moon Is Much Older Than We Thought

Posted: Jan 12 2017, 5:25am CST | by , Updated: Jan 12 2017, 5:31am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Moon is Much Older than we Thought
Photo Credit: Getty Images
 

New research suggests that the moon is 4.51 billion years old instead of 4.6 billion years

How old is the Earth’s moon? Scientists are revisiting the question previously considered settled.

After reanalyzing rocks and soil collected by Apollo 14 mission in 1971, researchers suggest that the moon is actually a lot older than originally estimated.

For years, researchers suspected that the moon was formed within 100 million to 200 million years after the creation of solar system. But new analysis suggests that the event likely took place within 60 years of solar system’s birth. This means our closest neighbor was born 4.51 billion years ago instead of 4.6 billion years. 

“We have finally pinned down a minimum age for the moon; it’s time we knew its age and now we do.” Mélanie Barboni, the study lead author and a research geochemist in University of California, Los Angeles said.

The new research was focused on the fragments of mineral zircon that were extracted from the Apollo 14 lunar samples. By analyzing the changes in zircon’s conditions over time, researchers were able to figure out the roughly age of the moon.

“Zircons are nature’s best clocks,” said co-author professor Kevin McKeegan from UCLA. “They are the best mineral in preserving geological history and revealing where the originated.”

The most widely accepted theory suggests that moon was formed by a catastrophe collision between the Earth and a Mars-sized forming planet called Theia. The moon was covered with magma right after its formation, which later cooled down and formed solid crust and mantle of the moon. 

Previous researches were mostly based on moon’s rock that went on to lose their pristine state due to multiple impacts. So, they ended up knowing the date of some event, not the age of the moon. New research, however, also takes into account the moon’s soil and the period before the solidification.

The latest findings are important because they can help researches better understand the origin of Earth and our solar system and how the Earth was like in its early evolutionary history.

“Establishing the age of the moon is critical to understanding our solar system evolution and formation of rocky planets, including Earth. However, despite its importance, the age of the moon has never been accurately determined.” Authors wrote in the study.

“Our data indicate differentiation of the lunar crust by 4.51 billion years, indicating the formation of the moon within the first 60 million years after the birth of solar system.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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