Moon was produced by a head-on collision between Earth and a forming planet

Posted on Jan. 28, 2016

Congratulations to Ed Young, Issaku Kohl, Paul Warren, and their collaborators on their paper “Oxygen isotopic evidence for vigorous mixing during the Moon-forming giant impact” which appears in tomorrow’s edition of Science. Using their new Panorama high-resolution mass spectrometer, the team has performed ultra-high precision oxygen isotope analyses of lunar samples. The compositions match those of Earth’s mantle rocks to within a few parts-per-million (in the ?17O parameter), demonstrating that the Earth and Moon formed from the exact same reservoir of well-mixed material. Their data also constrain the composition of the so-called “late veneer” materials added to the Earth after the Moon-forming impact.

A shout-out also goes to the UCLA Panorama instrument, a photo of which appears in an editor’s news item accompanying the article. You can read about it here or you can see it for yourself, literally, by looking through the picture window at the west-end of the first floor of Geology!