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The Moon-Forming Impact And Its Gifts

28 Jan 2019, 06:20 UTC
The Moon-Forming Impact And Its Gifts
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Rice University petrologists have found Earth most likely received the bulk of its carbon, nitrogen and other life-essential volatile elements from the planetary collision that created the moon more than 4.4 billion years ago. (Rice University)

The question of how life-essential elements such as carbon, nitrogen and sulfur came to our planet has been long debated and is a clearly important and slippery scientific subject.
Did these volatile elements accrete onto the proto-Earth from the sun’s planetary disk as the planet was being formed? Did they arrive substantially later via meteorite or comet? Or was it the cataclysmic moon-forming impact of the proto-Earth and another Mars-sized planet that brought in those essential elements?
Piecing this story together is definitely challenging, but now there is vigorous support for one hypothesis — that the giant impact brought us the elements would later be used to enable life.
Based on high pressure-temperature experiments, modeling and simulations, a team at Rice University’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences makes that case in Science Advances for the central role of the proto-planet called Theia.
“From the study of primitive meteorites, scientists have long known that Earth and other rocky planets in the ...

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