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|The Moon, and the question of how it was formed, has long been a source of fascination and wonder. Now, a team of Israeli researchers suggests that the Moon we see every night is not Earth’s first moon, but rather the last in a series of moons that orbited Earth in the past. The findings by the team of researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and the Weizmann Institute of Science are published in Nature Geoscience.|
“Our model suggests that the ancient Earth once hosted a series of moons, each one formed from a different collision with the proto-Earth,” said co-author Prof. Perets. “It’s likely that such moonlets were later ejected, or collided with Earth or with each other to form bigger moons.” To check the conditions for the formation of such mini-moons or moonlets the researchers ran 800 simulations of impacts with Earth.
“We believe Earth had many previous moons,” said Prof. Perets, who added that, “a previously formed moon could therefore already exist when another moon-forming giant impact occurs.”
“It’s likely that small moons formed through the process could cross orbits, collide and merge,” said lead author Prof. Rufo. “A long series of such moon-moon collisions could gradually build-up a bigger moon — the Moon we see today.”