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The moon appeared suddenly, but it is not clear how, studies show



Almost every year scientists have a new theory of the origin of the moon. However, despite this, most researchers agree that the hypothetical planet Theia collided with the Earth 4.5 billion years ago, the breakaway fragment of which turned into the main satellite of our planet.

Now, without departing from the generally accepted theory, scientists have revised it, finding obvious inconsistencies in it. A new study indicates that the collision with the hypothetical Theia may have had nothing to do with the formation of the moon. The study is published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

In the course of computer simulations, the researchers proposed an alternative theory regarding the appearance of a natural satellite of the Earth.

Simulations by researchers at Durham University’s Institute for Computational Cosmology suggest that the Earth’s collision with Theia 4.5 billion years ago may not have been the cause of the Moon’s formation.

Previous simulations have shown that a collision with a Mars-sized celestial object has resulted in a large amount of debris being trapped in Earth’s orbit. It was believed that over time this ring of debris slowly coalesced into one large mass, our moon.

However, when considering the geological composition of the Moon’s surface, scientists questioned this model. Lunar rocks delivered by the Apollo mission have an isotopic composition similar to that of the Earth’s mantle.

Simulations of the Theia impact suggest that an impact of this nature would have resulted in most of the debris coming from Theia rather than Earth. According to this model, the appearance of the Moon, which has the same isotopic composition as the Earth, contradicts the above theory.

Through computer simulations, the research team ran hundreds of different exposure scenarios. By varying the angle, speed, masses, and rotations of the two objects, they were able to observe which scenarios most closely match history, and concluded that its instantaneous formation was the result of a giant impact.

“This opens up an entirely new range of possible starting points for the evolution of the moon,” the team of researchers said.

This theory implies a completely different internal structure of our Moon and may prompt new studies of the internal processes of our planet’s satellite.

Is the moon older than the Earth?

Earlier, scientists from Germany came to the conclusion that the moon arose 50 million years after the formation of the solar system. They also established that our main satellite is even older than the Earth itself.

The researchers analyzed the amount of tungsten and hafnium isotopes in the lunar soil brought back by the Apollo mission. It is known that the decay of hafnium into tungsten lasted 70 million years from the beginning of the origin of the solar system.

Thanks to this, it was possible to establish that the rocks containing these isotopes cooled down much earlier.

That is, if we consider the appearance of a natural satellite of the Earth, taking into account this hypothesis, then even more questions arise regarding the formation of our planet and the entire solar system.

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Extraterrestrial life may be hiding in “terminator zones”




In a study published in the Astrophysical Journal, astrophysicists set out to find out if exoplanets could support life.

Astronomers have come to the conclusion that on the surface of some exoplanets there is a strip that may contain water, necessary for the existence of biological life. The terminator zone is the dividing line between the day and night sides of an exoplanet.

Many exoplanets are planets outside the solar system held by gravity. This means that one side of the planet is always facing the star they orbit, while the other side is in constant darkness.

The water on the dark side will most likely be in a frozen state, while on the light side it will be so hot that the water should just evaporate.

The terminator zone would be a “friendly place” – neither too hot nor too cold – in which liquid water could support extraterrestrial life.

Dr. Ana Lobo of the University of California, said: “The day side can be scalding hot, much uninhabitable, while the night side will be icy, potentially covered in ice. You need a planet that’s the right temperature for liquid water.”

“We’re trying to draw attention to planets with more limited amounts of water that, despite not having widespread oceans, might have lakes or other smaller bodies of liquid water, and that climate could actually be very promising.”

“By exploring these exotic climate states, we are improving our chances of finding and correctly identifying a habitable planet in the near future.”

The researchers created a model of their climate by analyzing different temperatures, wind patterns and radiative forcing, and found the “correct” zone on exoplanets that could contain life-supporting liquid water.

Researchers who are looking for life on exoplanets will now take into account the fact that it can hide in certain areas.

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Astronomers discover the strongest evidence for another Universe before the Big Bang




The notion of the Big Bang goes back nearly 100 years, when the first evidence for the expanding Universe appeared.

If the Universe is expanding and cooling today, that implies a past that was smaller, denser, and hotter. In our imaginations, we can extrapolate back to arbitrarily small sizes, high densities, and hot temperatures: all the way to a singularity, where all of the Universe’s matter and energy was condensed in a single point. 

For many decades, these two notions of the Big Bang — of the hot dense state that describes the early Universe and the initial singularity — were inseparable.

But beginning in the 1970s, scientists started identifying some puzzles surrounding the Big Bang, noting several properties of the Universe that weren’t explainable within the context of these two notions simultaneously. 

When cosmic inflation was first put forth and developed in the early 1980s, it separated the two definitions of the Big Bang, proposing that the early hot, dense state never achieved these singular conditions, but rather that a new, inflationary state preceded it. 

There really was a Universe before the hot Big Bang, and some very strong evidence from the 21st century truly proves that it’s so.

Although we’re certain that we can describe the very early Universe as being hot, dense, rapidly expanding, and full of matter-and-radiation — i.e., by the hot Big Bang — the question of whether that was truly the beginning of the Universe or not is one that can be answered with evidence. 

The differences between a Universe that began with a hot Big Bang and a Universe that had an inflationary phase that precedes and sets up the hot Big Bang are subtle, but tremendously important. After all, if we want to know what the very beginning of the Universe was, we need to look for evidence from the Universe itself.

Read the full article here.

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