JOE TUCCIARONE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOE TUCCIARONE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Moon's origin. Artwork of a large body colliding with a young Earth illustrating the impact theory of the formation of the Moon. In this theory, a giant, planet-sized object is thought to have col- lided with the Earth (the larger body) around 4.6 billion years ago. A mixture of terrestrial material and the colliding body would have been thrown into orbit around the Earth and later coalesced to form the Moon. Because this material would have jetted into space in a predominantly vaporised state, the impact hypothesis could explain both the Moon's dearth of volatile elements and its slight enrichment in refractory (high melting point) elements.
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