Wednesday, December 6, 2023

The Moon is 40 million years older than previously thought

11:43 PM | , ,

A close-up view of the moon's surface showing detailed craters and lunar maria, with the shadow line of the terminator indicating the division between the lunar day and night sides.
Welcome to an enlightening piece brought to you by the dedicated team at Our article delves into a remarkable study that chronicles the age of the Moon, employing the sophisticated technology of atomic probe tomography.

In the spotlight of this research are scientists from the Field Museum and the University of Glasgow, in collaboration with the atomic probe tomography facility at Northwestern University. This facility, heralding a new era of technological advancements in space studies, was pivotal in enabling the researchers to accurately determine the age of the oldest zircon crystal, thereby revealing the Moon's age.

The research team capitalized on the tomography facility's cutting-edge tools for high-precision microanalysis, a leap in progress from the last manned lunar mission in 1972. Through an atom-by-atom analysis, they could monitor the radioactive decay in zircon crystals, originating from lunar dust, to estimate the Moon's age. 

As explained by Philipp Heck of the Field Museum, this process of radiometric dating is akin to observing an hourglass. The transformation rate of parent atoms into child atoms gives an indication of time, much like the flow of sand in an hourglass marks the passage of time.

The study also engaged the expertise of Dieter Isheim, a research associate professor at Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering, David Seidman, a professor emeritus, and others, who contributed to this groundbreaking research.

The research findings take us back more than 4 billion years to the Moon's formative years. A Mars-sized object crashed into the still-growing Earth, leading to the formation of the Moon. The impact's energy melted the rock that later solidified to form the lunar surface. 

Jennika Greer from the University of Glasgow, the lead author of the study, elaborated on the use of atomic probe tomography in this context. The lunar sample was sharpened to a point, allowing for the evaporation of atoms under the influence of UV lasers. The atoms' speed indicated their weight and composition, facilitating further analysis.

Upon dating the zircon crystals and performing radiometric dating, the team concluded the Moon to be roughly 4.46 billion years old.

Philipp Heck concludes, "Understanding better when the Moon formed is crucial. As a stabilizer of the Earth's axis of rotation, the reason for 24-hour days and tides, the Moon plays a significant role in our planetary system. Our research contributes a small yet significant piece to this cosmic puzzle".


You Might Also Like :

0 commenti:

Post a Comment