Since the dawn of time, human beings have probably been looking up to the moon and stars above and wondering about them. Scientists have been trying to estimate their age and explain how these heavenly bodies were formed for hundreds of years, and now we have another new theory about the moon’s formation.
What nuclear residue has in common with the moon
This theory comes from researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. It was published in the journal Science Advances on Wednesday, and to come up with their theory, researchers studied glass that was left behind at the New Mexico site where the Trinity plutonium bomb was tested in 1945. They then compared the samples of the trinitite glass at the test site with samples from the moon to look for similarities between chemical processes.
The trinitite they examined was collected from various distances away from ground zero where the bomb was actually detonated, ranging from 300 to 800 feet away. The researchers did indeed find some similarities between the chemical processes from the lunar rocks and the trinitite glass
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When rocks evaporate
Lead researcher Professor James Day told Gizmodo that the geology of the Trinity site was important because it contains arkosic sandstone and quartz, which can evaporate or melt. He explained that extremely high temperatures can cause the silicate minerals found in quartz to vaporize similar to what happens during a huge impact or nuclear blast.
So the research team looked specifically at volatile elements that vaporize at very high temperatures in the Trinity samples and then compared them with the moon rocks that had been recovered. They saw that the samples that were recovered closer to the bomb blast were actually dried out with some elements such as zinc, but those that were recovered farther away from ground zero were not because the levels of heat they were exposed to were not as high as those closer to the detonation.
Day said in order to dry out something as big as the moon, lots of heat is needed and it must be a “very, very big process.” As a result, the researchers suggest that the drying out happened when the moon was formed, most likely at the time of a huge, violent impact. This fits with the “giant impact theory,” which has been around since the 1970s.