Origin of the moon by tidal capture and some geophysical consequences
- Cite this article as:
- Singer, S.F. The Moon (1972) 5: 206. doi:10.1007/BF00562114
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Of the many proposed modes of origin of the Moon, some violate physical laws; many are in conflict with observations; all are improbable. Perhaps the least improbable - based on recent tidal theory calculations and on the interpretation of lunar rock data - is capture of the Moon as it passed near the Earth in adirect (prograde) orbit, shortly after the formation of Moon and Earth, about 4.5 billion years ago. (Capture of the Moon from an initiallyretrograde orbit which had been proposed some years ago, leads to physically unacceptable consequences.) The effects of capture on the Earth would have been cataclysmic, leading to intensive heating of its interior, to volcanism, and to the immediate formation of an atmosphere and hydrosphere. Thus capture of a Moon may have given rise to the unique properties of the Earth (in the Solar System) and to the early evolution of life, about 3.5 billion years ago.