Moon-Forming Smashup May Have Paved the Way for Life on Earth

An artist’s illustration of the catastrophic planetary collision that astronomers think led to the formation of Earth’s moon more than 4.4 billion years ago Credit: Courtesy of Rise University
The long-ago giant impact that led to the formation of Earth’s moon also helped make life as we know it possible on our planet, a new study suggests.

By Mike Wall |

More than 4.4 billion years ago, scientists believe, a Mars-size planet dubbed Theia slammed into the proto-Earth, blasting huge amounts of material from the pair into space. Some of this violently liberated stuff eventually coalesced to form the moon, while other bits and pieces were gobbled up by our bashed and bleeding world.

Some of this newly incorporated material turned out to be pretty important. According to the study, the catastrophic collision provided Earth with most of its carbon, nitrogen and sulfur, key chemical building blocks of life as we know it. [How the Moon Evolved: A Photo Timeline]

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