Creating an isotopically similar Earth–Moon system with correct angular momentum from a giant impact
The giant impact hypothesis is the dominant theory explaining the formation of our Moon. However, the inability to produce an isotopically similar Earth–Moon system with correct angular momentum has cast a shadow on its validity. Computer-generated impacts have been successful in producing virtual systems that possess many of the observed physical properties. However, addressing the isotopic similarities between the Earth and Moon coupled with correct angular momentum has proven to be challenging. Equilibration and evection resonance have been proposed as means of reconciling the models. In the summer of 2013, the Royal Society called a meeting solely to discuss the formation of the Moon. In this meeting, evection resonance and equilibration were both questioned as viable means of removing the deficiencies from giant impact models. The main concerns were that models were multi-staged and too complex. We present here initial impact conditions that produce an isotopically similar Earth–Moon system with correct angular momentum. This is done in a single-staged simulation. The initial parameters are straightforward and the results evolve solely from the impact. This was accomplished by colliding two roughly half-Earth-sized impactors, rotating in approximately the same plane in a high-energy, off-centered impact, where both impactors spin into the collision.
KeywordsAccretion Earth Moon planetary formation planet-disk interaction
We thank NVIDIA and Mellanox Technologies for the donation of hardware; Tarleton State University’s high-performance computing lab for space; Tarleton State University’s Office of Research and Innovation, and The Program for Astronomy Education and Research for funding; Robert W. Muth for insightful remarks and suggestions; and special thanks to The Wyatt Fund for supporting student travel.
- Stevenson, D. J., Halliday, A. N. 2014, Phil. Tran. R. Soc. A 372, 1–3Google Scholar