A team of Israeli researchers are arguing that “the moon was … forged in a brutal rain of cosmic debris that repeatedly hammered the fledgling Earth over millions of years,” challenging the conventional lunar origin story, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The most popular modern theory for how Earth’s moon was created posits that it was formed in a single large crash between a Mars-sized planet and an early “proto-Earth” approximately 4.5 billion years ago. This theory, known as the Giant Impact Hypothesis, was first proposed in the 1970s.
In the abstract of their paper, “A Multiple-Impact Origin for the Moon,” published in Nature Geoscience, the researchers argue that “Successful giant-impact scenarios,” such as the one proposed by the Giant Impact Hypothesis, “require very specific conditions such that they have a low probability of occurring.” Rather than forming from a single giant impact, they posit that Earth’s moon is more likely comprised of many small “moonlets,” generated by multiple collisions between early Earth and Mars-sized bodies. This object eventually migrated outward and formed the moon we know, land on, scrutinize, write songs about and love today.