RICHARD BIZLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RICHARD BIZLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Formation of the Moon. Artwork of a Mars-sized protoplanet approaching a young volcanic Earth. This artwork is illustrating the giant impact theory of the formation of the Moon. This theory says that an object about the size of Mars collided with the Earth around 4.6 billion years ago, soon after they both formed. Material from the outer layers of both bodies was thrown into orbit around the Earth, forming a ring. This then coalesced to form the Moon. Both the Earth and the Moon are still molten from the heat of impact. For a sequence of the formation, see images R340/853 to R340/856.
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