For years, astronomy has been in an uproar over the origin of Earth's only natural satellite. Now, a team of Israeli researchers has shaken up the debate by offering an entirely new explanation, published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience.
They say the moon isn't a single chunk of rock but an amalgamation of nearly two dozen "moonlets," one that was formed during a steady bombardment of Earth by several smaller bodies.
It's a major departure from the "giant impact model," which proposes that the satellite came about during a single, violent collision between Earth and a hypothetical protoplanet called Theia.
"The whole giant impact model had been put into crisis several years ago," Sarah Stewart, a planetary physicist at the University of California at Davis, told The Washington Post last year, "to the point where people thought it might be completely wrong because we couldn't make it work in its details."
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