A research conducted by UCLA made an interesting discovery regarding the moon. After the analysis of moon zircons, they discovered that it is actually much older than it was previously thought.
The zircons that were analyzed are moon minerals collected from its surface during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971. Previous studies stated the moon to be around 40 million and 140 million years old. The new discoveries found that it is at least 4.51 billion years old.
The age of the moon has always been a topic of interest for scientists and astronomers worldwide. A minimum possible age of the moon was already established, but now, using more advanced scientific equipment, its exact age has been discovered.
The moon was formed after a violent clash between the early Earth and a celestial body, Theia, that scientists called a “planetary embryo”. The new research would pinpoint the formation of the moon at 60 million years after the birth of the solar system. By knowing exactly when the moon was formed, we can find out more about our early Earth and solar system.
Analyzing moon rocks and determining their age is a difficult task, since they might also contain parts of other rocks, but the USLA researchers were able to find these eight zircons that were ‘pure’. Zircons are minerals that are best preserved throughout time and are ideal to be used in order to identify the geological origins of rocks.
When looking at the zircons, researchers analyzed how the uranium they contained decayed to lead and how the lutetium decayed to hafnium. After the collision, they believed the moon was in a liquefied state and was covered in magma. The measurements of the uranium and lead indicate when the zircons appeared in the magma, and the measurements of lutetium and hafnium indicate the moment when the magma formed.
These studies are meant to identify the exact moment when the moon formed, namely even before the solidification of its surface. The analysis of other rocks were able to indicate when other events or collisions happened, but not the real age of the moon.
The research will continue by analyzing the other zircons brought from the moon and finding out new details about the history of the moon.
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