A new study revealed that Earth may have lost up to 60% of its atmosphere in colliding with another young planet that caused the formation of the moon.
The new study, led by Durham University, includes more than 300 supercomputing simulations designed to show the result of a massive collision on the planet.
Their findings led to the development of a new method for predicting atmospheric loss from any collision across a wide range of rocky planetary impacts.
Scientists can use it to search for the origins of the moon or other gigantic influences in our solar system and on the rocky outer planets light years away.
The moon is thought to have formed about 4.5 billion years ago in the wake of a collision between early Earth and a giant collider possibly the size of Mars.
Lead author Dr Jacob Kegres, of the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University, said scientists are working hard to unravel the mystery. He added, “We conducted hundreds of different scenarios for many different colliding planets, and showed the changing effects on the planet’s atmosphere depending on a number of factors such as angle, velocity of impact or the sizes of the planets.”
The simulations cannot directly determine how the moon was, but they could show the effects of the giant collision on Earth’s atmosphere.
This can be used to narrow the different ways in which the moon may have formed and lead us to understand the origin of our closest celestial neighbor.
And earlier this year, a preliminary study by Durham University reported that gigantic influences that dominate the later stages of planet formation could have a wide range of consequences for smaller planets and their atmosphere.
This study discussed the ways in which a planet’s atmosphere can be changed through the impact of objects at different angles, masses, sizes and velocities.
The simulations revealed that the Earth could lose between 10-60% of its atmosphere in the collision where the moon came into existence.
The researchers say the results also provide a new way to predict atmospheric loss from other rocky planets that participated in the collision.
The researchers found that a slow giant effect between two bodies with a lot of atmosphere could add an important atmosphere to both worlds.
This latest paper examines impacts across a variety of effects adapted to the size, mass, velocity, and angle of the affected object.
They also changed the density of the collider and whether it was made of iron, rocks, or both, as part of the new study.
The simulations revealed the different results when one or more of these variables changed, leading to a loss or gain of the atmosphere or, in some cases, a complete obliteration of the affected planet.
“This major group of planetary simulations also highlights the role of influences in the evolution of exoplanets like Earth,” said co-author Dr. Luis Teodoro, from the University of Glasgow’s School of Physics and Astronomy.
Source: Daily Mail