Supercomputer simulation re-enacts the birth of the Moon

The formation of the Moon billions of years ago is cloaked in mystery. Most astronomers believe the young Earth, still cooling off from its formation, was struck by a mars-sized body called Theia, roughly 4.5 billion years ago.

As the proto-Moon orbited Earth, it cooled, and gathered debris from the surrounding region of space. At the time, the Moon was much closer to Earth than it is today. Over billions of years, gravitational forces between the Earth and the Moon resulted in our planetary companion moving further away from our home world.

Researchers at Durham University developed supercomputer simulations, showing how this ancient collision may have unfolded.