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The moon is approximately 85 million years younger than we thought, new study results



A new study has assumed that previous estimates of the lunar age were millions of years away.

Scientists at the German Aerospace Center calculated how long it took for the moon’s magma ocean – it is generally believed that the lunar surface had once melted – to cool down, and they estimated that the moon was actually close to 100 million Years younger than previously thought – about 85 million years younger, to be exact.

So the moon was actually born at the end of the earth formation.

“This is the first time that the age of the moon can be directly linked to an event that occurred at the end of earth formation, namely the formation of the nucleus,”
; said Thorsten Kleine, co-author of the study at the Institute of Planetology at the University of Münster in Germany.
Their results were published in Science Advances this month.

How the moon was made

Many scientists agree on the history of the formation of the moon: About 4.51 billion years ago, the earth was still warming and changing rapidly. During this time, it collided with a protoplanet called Theia, which launched rocks from Earth into space.

The Chinese space mission shows what it's like on the other side of the moon

Theia takes its name from one of the titans in Greek mythology, known as the mother of the moon goddess Selene. Nothing remains of the protoplanet.

This illustration by NASA shows the moon melted at the beginning of its story.

These debris eventually accumulated over a few thousand years and formed the earth’s natural satellite – the moon.

The energy that resulted from the agglomeration of rock created an ocean of magma on the surface of the emerging moon. It eventually crystallized and formed the surface of the moon as we know it today.

How to age a 4 billion year old astral body

Samples returned from the moon during the Apollo missions and the Soviet Luna robot missions have not helped provide data for an exact age of the moon. So scientists had to research other methods.

Using a computer model, the team of scientists estimated how long it took the moon’s magma ocean to cool and solidify. Knowing how long this crystallization process took, showed her how old the moon really is.

Previous models estimated that it took up to 30 million years for the magma ocean to cool down. This new study showed that these models were millions of years away.

Single moon speck of dust collected during Apollo 17

But how can you restore a process that took place at the beginning of the existence of the solar system? This part required “a lot of imagination and creativity,” said the researchers.

The scientists also had to calculate the composition of the old minerals that formed when the ocean solidified. This helped them combine different types of rock with certain stages of the development of the magma ocean.

All of these models showed that the moon took almost 200 million years to cool off from its molten form and create what we know today as the lunar crust.

Scientists examined the mineral composition of the moon to estimate that the moon is approximately 4.425 billion years old or 85 million years younger than was found in previous studies. That’s about the time the Earth’s core settled, the researchers said.

CNN’s Ashley Strickland contributed to this report.


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