Study shows that the Moon is older than previously believed

Continuing the Apollo legacy
This sample is an ilmenite basalt collected during Apollo 12. It has glass on it, deposited by the splash of material when another basalt was struck by an impactor. Samples like 12054 allow us to reconstruct the history of the Moon with the stories they tell. Credit: Maxwell Thiemens, 2019

A new study spearheaded by Earth scientists at the University of Cologne's Institute of Geology and Mineralogy has constrained the age of the Moon to approximately 50 million years after the formation of the solar system. After the formation of the solar system, 4.56 billion years ago, the Moon formed approximately 4.51 billion years ago. The new study has thus determined that the Moon is significantly older than previously believed—earlier research had estimated the Moon to have formed approximately 150 million years after solar system's formation. To achieve these results, the scientists analysed the chemical composition of a diverse range of samples collected during the Apollo missions. The study "Early Moon formation inferred from hafnium-tungsten systematics' was published in Nature Geoscience.

On 21 July 1969, mankind took its first steps on another celestial body. In their few hours on the , the crew of Apollo 11 collected and brought back to Earth 21.55 kg of samples. Almost exactly 50 years later, these samples are still teaching us about key events of the early solar system and the history of the Earth-Moon system. Determining the age of the Moon is also important to understand how and at which time the Earth formed, and how it evolved at the very beginning of the solar system.

This study focuses on the chemical signatures of different types of lunar samples collected by the different Apollo missions. "By comparing the relative amounts of different elements in rocks that formed at different times, it is possible to learn how each sample is related to the lunar interior and the solidification of the magma ocean," says Dr. Raúl Fonseca from the University of Cologne, who studies processes that occurred in the Moon's interior in laboratory experiments together with his colleague Dr. Felipe Leitzke.

The Moon likely formed in the aftermath of a giant collision between a Mars-sized planetary body and the early Earth. Over time, the Moon accreted from the cloud of material blasted into Earth's orbit. The newborn Moon was covered in a magma ocean, which formed different types of rocks as it cooled. "These rocks recorded information about the formation of the Moon, and can still be found today on the lunar surface," says Dr. Maxwell Thiemens, former University of Cologne researcher and lead author of the study. Dr. Peter Sprung, co-author of the study, adds: "Such observations are not possible on Earth anymore, as our planet has been geologically active over time. The Moon thus provides a unique opportunity to study ."

The Cologne scientists used the relationship between the rare elements hafnium, uranium and tungsten as a probe to understand the amount of melting that occurred to generate the mare basalts, i.e., the black regions on the lunar surface. Owing to an unprecedented measurement precision, the study could identify distinct trends amongst the different suites of rocks, which now allows for a better understanding of the behaviour of these key rare elements.

Studying hafnium and tungsten on the Moon are particularly important because they constitute a natural radioactive clock of the isotope hafnium-182 decaying into tungsten-182. This radioactive decay only lasted for the first 70 million years of the solar system. By combining the hafnium and tungsten information measured in the Apollo samples with information from , the study finds that the Moon already started solidifying as early as 50 million years after solar system formed. "This age information means that any giant impact had to occur before that time, which answers a fiercely debated question amongst the scientific community regarding when the Moon formed," adds Professor Dr. Carsten Münker from the UoC's Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, senior author of the study.

Maxwell Thiemens concludes: "Mankind's first steps on another world exactly 50 years ago yielded samples which let us understand the timing and evolution of the Moon. As the Moon's formation was the final major planetary event after Earth's formation, the age of the Moon provides a minimum age for Earth as well."


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Apollo moon rocks help transform understanding of the universe

More information: Maxwell M. Thiemens et al. Early Moon formation inferred from hafnium–tungsten systematics. Nature Geoscience (2019
DOI: doi.org/10.1038/s41561-019-0398-3
Journal information: Nature Geoscience

Citation: Study shows that the Moon is older than previously believed (2019, July 29) retrieved 18 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-07-moon-older-previously-believed.html
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Jul 29, 2019
The moon is brought in place in perfect orbit around earth by aliens that uses it to observere us. It is therefore much older than earth. It is hollowed out by the aliens so that they can have their technology inside it. Those aliens also live inside it. It is the "greys". When apollo crashed an artifact at great speed into the moons surface it rang like a bell in over an hour. The moon fits the sun so perfect that it perfectly and exactly covers it during the suneclipses. It is also perfectly sircular. The chances for all these things to happen by natural occuring fenomena is absolute zero, according to different respected scientists.

Jul 29, 2019
Continued from my above comment: The summarian people and Hulu tribes wrote in ancient texts about the time before the moon were brought here by the Gods. In that ancient time the earth were covered with water vapor and therfore a green paradize. When the moon was brought by the aliens it affected the earth with great flooding and heavy raining that lasted for years. The US government knows this and it will be revealed by them to all of us very soon.

Jul 29, 2019
The moon fits the sun so perfect that it perfectly and exactly covers it during the suneclipses. It is also perfectly sircular. The chances for all these things to happen by natural occuring fenomena is absolute zero, according to different respected scientists.

Why would anyone design something like that? Why not just put a label on it if it's going to be guessed it's artificial? And why cover it with dust???

It'd be as if we moved New York inside the forest so we can observe bears.

Jul 29, 2019
This age information means that any giant impact had to occur before that time, which answers a fiercely debated question amongst the scientific community regarding when the Moon formed
Good to know, still ain't eatin' any tho...

The moon expired back in '02 -- https://apod.nasa...401.html

Jul 29, 2019
Well, now that is a confirmation:

2019: "... we found that the 182W excess in lunar samples can be explained by the decay of the now extinct 182Hf to 182W. 182Hf was only extant for the first 60 Myr after the Solar System formation. We conclude that the Moon formed early, approximately 50 Myr after the Solar System ..." [ https://www.natur...9-0398-3 ]

2017: "Hafnium isotopic analyses of the same fragments show extremely low initial 176Hf/177Hf ratios corrected for cosmic ray exposure that are near the solar system initial value. 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 the solar system." [ https://advances....e1602365 ]

@stein-age: The reader notes that you do not link any "respected scientists", so the chances for all your claims being fact is absolute zero. Blocked by me for inane trolling.

Jul 29, 2019
someone here has no sense of humor, who thumbs-downed nasa's green cheese joke?

Jul 29, 2019
"It is also perfectly sircular. (sic)"

Actually, no. The Moon is 'wonky' due tidal processes and mega-impacts, the 'Lunar MasCons' being a real-nuisance for low orbits. And, as any total eclipse will show, the Moon's silhouette is non-circular...

Jul 29, 2019
someone here has no sense of humor, who thumbs-downed nasa's green cheese joke?

Fixed that for ya... :-)
And Stein-age. They didn't do a very good job, as it is moving away from us at approx. 3.8 cm per year!

Jul 29, 2019
Continued from my above comment: The summarian people and Hulu tribes wrote in ancient texts about the time before the moon were brought here by the Gods. In that ancient time the earth were covered with water vapor and therfore a green paradize. When the moon was brought by the aliens it affected the earth with great flooding and heavy raining that lasted for years. The US government knows this and it will be revealed by them to all of us very soon.

The Greys? Nah, it'll be the Anunnaki having tea with Zecharia Sitchin and teaching him how to read Sumerian cuneiform, Ha!

Jul 29, 2019
This paper confirms that impact theory is wrong. How come impact took place so early in the solar system at a time when earth and other planets were still gaseous clouds, or perhaps molten magma and undergoing the formation process. This magical Mars-sized object was already in solid form, surprisingly.
But then, how did Io, Ganymede, Titan, etc. which are mostly solids, form? Accretion is more tangible than impact into gas to pull out a blob of gas to form a moon.

Jul 29, 2019
guptm
you are comparing apples & pineapples, tasty but irrelevant

this article, as far as i can tell,
is specific to the subject
of possible age to be theorized
for the Lunar formation
if you want your other questions answered?
email the researchers

though i would be very surprised
if they respond with answers
you will be willing to listen to

Jul 30, 2019
The Greys? Nah, it'll be the Anunnaki having tea with Zecharia Sitchin and teaching him how to read Sumerian cuneiform, Ha!
That's quite a story isn't it? "Let's create some humans to do all the heavy lifting for us because that's so much easier than making some robots" zomg!

Aug 05, 2019
Come on guys; The solar system was here before all of us. Everything in it came with it! Juz contemplating transference. Formation?

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