Scientists discover chunk of huge planet that smashed into Earth and formed moon

Traces of a massive planet that nearly destroyed Earth and helped form the Moon billions of years ago have been discovered by scientists.

The giant-impact hypothesis suggests that approximately 4.5 billion years ago a Mars-sized object collided with the newly-formed earth.

This fusion may have helped to create conditions that support life.

Scientists also believe a chunk broke off and went on to form the Moon.

They have now analysed traces of the planet, referred to as Theia, on lunar rocks brought back to Earth by Apollo astronauts.

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Researchers from the University of Mexico wrote in their paper: "This model was capable of accounting for the then-recent observations from samples returned by the Apollo missions, which included the Moon's low iron content relative to Earth, depletion in volatiles and enrichment in refractory elements, while avoiding most of the pitfalls of previous lunar origin theories."

Other theories of the moon's formation include an impact which created a cloud of dust, which then went on to become Earth and the Moon.

Another theory claims that the moon existed elsewhere in the solar system and was trapped by the Earth's gravity, where it currently remains.

The 'fission theory' suggests that the moon and the Earth were once the same body, but they separated in the early history of the solar system.

A fourth possible theory proposes that the Earth and the moon were formed at the same time from the nebula that created the whole solar system.

Scientists have still not been able to discover the true origin of the Moon.

However, the discovery of the mysterious chunk is a serious breakthrough.

Research and analysis is being carried out, but another trip to the Moon would be required to truly analyse the findings and confirm the theory.

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