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Scientists Suggest Mini-Moon Amalgamation Theory

By wochit 10 January 2017

The moon is made of moons, new simulations suggest. Instead of a single colossal collision forming Earth’s cosmic companion, researchers propose that a series of medium to large impacts created mini moons that eventually coalesced to form one giant moon. This mini-moon amalgamation explains why the moon has an Earthlike chemical makeup, the researchers propose January 9 in Nature Geoscience. “I think this is a real contender in with the other moon-forming scenarios,” says Robin Canup, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., who was not involved in the new work. “This out-of-the-box idea isn’t any less probable — and it might be more probable — than the other existing scenarios.” A collision between Earth and a Mars-sized object called Theia around 4.5 billion years ago is the current leading candidate for how the moon formed. This impact would have been a glancing blow rather than a dead-on collision, with most of the resulting building materials for the moon coming from Theia. But the moon and Earth are compositional dead ringers for one another, casting doubts on a mostly extraterrestrial origin of lunar material and thus the single impact explanation.