The cosmic collision that had the moon left behind a plethora of elements behind on Earth was crucial for the emergence of life claims the US scientists.The impact which occurred some 4.4bn years ago is thought to have been the result of an itinerant planet of the size of Mars which when banged into the dawning Earth, scattering a shower of rocks into space, the remnants later coalesced into the moon.
Beyond an act that has given shape to the sky, the smashing transferred crucial elements to the Earth’s surface, meaning that most of the carbon and nitrogen that makes up our bodies probably came from the passing planet, the researchers believe.
“From the study of primitive meteorites, scientists have long known that Earth and other rocky planets in the inner solar system are volatile-depleted. But the timing and mechanism of volatile delivery have been hotly debated,” said Rajdeep Dasgupta, who worked on the particular project. “Ours is the first scenario that can explain the timing and delivery in a way that is consistent with all the geochemical evidence.” The research is published in Science Advances.
“This study suggests that a rocky, Earth-like planet gets more chances to acquire life-essential elements if it forms and grows from giant impacts with planets that have sampled different building blocks, perhaps from different parts of a protoplanetary disc,” he added. The disc is the doughnut of material from which the planets have ejected.
Earlier this month, an international team of researchers discovered that the rate of asteroid strikes on the moon, and by extension the Earth, shot up nearly threefold 290m years ago, probably after two or more giant bodies in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter crashed together and sent a bombardment of space rocks into the inner solar system.
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