We see it hanging in the sky almost every night, and we’ve even stepped foot on its surface. Yet, scientists still know very little about Earth’s Moon. While the jury’s still out about how it formed, a new study may have pinned down its exact age.
According to a team of researchers at UCLA, the Moon is estimated to be about 4.51 billion years old, roughly 140 million years older than previously thought. If true, the Moon may have formed about 60 million years after our solar system was born, relatively early in our solar system’s evolution.
Scientists were able to figure out the Moon’s age by analyzing uranium decay in minerals called zircons, which are found in Moon rocks that were brought back by the Apollo 14 mission in 1971, Gizmodo notes. Previous studies have utilized similar methods but the samples scientists studied may have been the result of multiple collisions, which may be why there are so many differing opinions on the Moon’s age.
Figuring out the Moon’s age is important to our understanding of the solar system and the formation of rocky planets, including the formation of Earth.
It makes you appreciate it more
The Moon has been Earth’s neighbor for billions of years, yet it’s still pretty mysterious. The latest study out of UCLA furthers our understanding of Earth’s celestial friend, and gives scientists a better idea of how (and when) it formed all those years ago.