Recent geochemical studies show that the chemical composition of the Moon is very similar to that of the Earth—that is, the Moon is made up primarily of terrestrial materials rather than materials from the impacting celestial body. The Earth and Moon are like identical twins. No other celestial bodies we know of share this kind of chemical relationship.
In a recent TED talk, Planetary Scientist Sarah T. Stewart discusses how she discovered new kind of astronomical object — a synestia — which presents a new way to look at the mystery of the Moon’s origin.
Stewart’s work is shedding light on planet formation and evolution. Through a combination of shock physics experiments on natural materials (such as ice and rock), theoretical models, and computational simulations, Stewart investigates the effects of high-energy impacts onto planets and planet-like bodies.
As scientists discover more and more new planets, the synestia concept could be a common outcome of planetary growth and thus hold broader implications for understanding the evolution of other planets.
Thomas Edison was interested in the solar system, having promulgated theories of its operation and the radio emission of stars—even developing a Tasimeter to try and measure the temperature of the sun. He certainly would have been interested in Sarah’s work!
Watch Sarah Stewart’s full TED Talk here:
Learn more about this theory with the Editor’s Deep Dive:
Thomas Edison said, “If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves …”