Puzzle over origin of Earth’s water SOLVED – it came from ‘dead planet that smashed into us’ 4billion years ago, scientists claim

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Puzzle over origin of Earth's water SOLVED – it came from 'dead planet that smashed into us' 4billion years ago, scientists claim



WATER arrived on Earth at exactly the same time that the Moon was created over 4billion years ago, according to a new study.
This phenomenon is thought to have happened when an ‘ancient planet’ called Theia smashed into Earth.
Getty – Contributor The Theia collision hypothesis is how a lot of scientists think the Moon was formed
Planetologists at the University of Münster in Germany have collected evidence to suggest that Theia, a Mars sized celestial object from the outer solar system, collided with Earth and enabled life on the planet.
This collision is said to have resulted in large quantities of water being transferred from Theia onto the Earth and forming the oceans, similar to how we know them today.
Theories suggest that Earth actually formed as a dry planet in the inner solar system so shouldn’t have had any water on it at all.
Before this Theia water hypothesis, a lot of scientists thought that water was brought to Earth by watery meteorites from the outer solar system, called ‘carbonaceous’ meteorites.
Getty – Contributor Lots of scientists think that Earth was once a dry waterless planet when it first formed
Earlier studies have suggested that when the solar system was formed about 4.5 billion years ago, ‘dry’ materials were separated from the ‘wet’ materials with the dry objects, such as Earth, being in the inner solar system and therefore the ‘carbonaceous’ meteorites theory would make sense.
Meteorites from the inner solar system at this time wouldn’t have been wet and are called ‘non-carbonaceous’ meteorites.
However, the German scientists used a substance called molybdenum isotopes to distinguish between carbonaceous and non-carbonaceous materials on Earth to create a ‘genetic fingerprint’ for the planet and prove whether materials came from the inner or the outer solar system.
Through this method they found that wet ‘carbonaceous’ material arrived on Earth late and from the outer solar system.
They argue that the only collision that could explain the amount of carbonaceous material on the planet, meaning the entire amount of water on Earth, is the Theia impact, which is thought to have also created the moon.
Both water and the moon, which stabilises the Earth’s axis, were essential to the creation of life Earth.
Thorsten Kleine, Professor of Planetology at the University of Münster, concluded: “Our approach is unique because, for the first time, it allows us to associate the origin of water on Earth with the formation of the Moon.
“To put it simply, without the Moon there probably would be no life on Earth.”
The results are published in the current issue of the journal Nature Astronomy. 
Wikimedia Commons/Citronade This timeline shows how all the debris from the collision could have eventually merged together
What is the Theia impact?Everything you need to know about the World’s most important collision…

The Theia impact, also referred to as the giant impact or the ‘big splash’, is a hypothesis which suggests that the Moon was formed from debris that was broken off Earth when a giant planet sized object collided with it
This planet sized object is known as Theia and is often described as an ‘anicent planet’ that was the size of Mars
The collision between Theia and Earth is thought to have happened around 4.4billion years ago
Analysis of Moon rocks has suggested that the impact was one direct hit and the moon could actually be a combination of a chunk of Earth and parts of Theia
There is evidence in other star systems of similar collisions
Some scientists now think this is also how water came to be on Earth as Theia could have contained lots of water, which it then transferred

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Did you know about the Theia impact? Let us know in the comments…

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