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Remains of Theia, Earth’s Moon-Forming Impactor, May Still Exist Deep in Earth

8 Apr 2021, 06:21 UTC
Remains of Theia, Earth’s Moon-Forming Impactor, May Still Exist Deep in Earth
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IMAGE: Theia, perhaps as big as the proto-Earth, would have delivered its densest rocks inside the planet. CREDIT: Hagai Perets

We aren’t always lucky with asteroids. We suspect our own moon was formed when a Mars-sized object hit the proto-Earth and generated a splash of lighter weight material that formed the Moon while the heavier bits of both objects stayed together to make up our Earth. In a new paper in Science, scientists used seismographic maps of the Earth’s innards — maps like InSight is trying to make of Mars — to identify two continent-sized layers of rock buried deep inside the Earth’s mantle. These structures are unusual, and according to the article summary: [they] simply have crystallized out of the depths of Earth’s primordial magma ocean. Or they might be dense puddles of primitive mantle rock that survived the trauma of the Moon-forming impact. But based on new isotopic evidence and modeling, [lead author] Qian Yuan believes the [structures] are the guts of the alien impactor itself.

We aren’t in a position to go digging, but it is cool to think there may be shrapnel still intact in our world.

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