A massive cosmic collision 4,4 billion years ago created the moon but also imparted Earth with most of the essential ingredients for life, researchers from Rice University in Texas found. Following a series of high-pressure, high-pressure experiments designed to mimic conditions deep under the surface, the team of petrologists concluded a collision with a planet similar in size to Mars was probably responsible for carbon and nitrogen on our planet. The study found that Earth's core does not have evidence of carbon, nitrogen and sulfur, leading scientists to believe that the elements arrive on Earth from an interstellar body
Lead author Damanveer Grewal said: "What we found is that all evidence ̵
The sulfur content of the donor planet's core is important because of the puzzling array of experimental evidence on carbon, nitrogen and sulfur that exists in all parts of Earth other than the core.
"Material cycles between them."
Co-author of Rajdee Dasgupta said: "From the study of primitive meteorites, scientists have long known that Earth and other rocky planets in the inner solar system are volatile-depleted.
"This is the first scenario that can explain the timing and delivery in a way that is consistent with all geochemical evidence."
The study was published in Science Advances
Scientists have previously hypothesized that Earth is made of material from two planets – the early Earth and a second, smaller planet dubbed Theia.
Originally it was believed that the Moon was formed when Theia skimmed the Earth
But a 2016 study by the University of California found a smaller planet actually collided with the Earth shortly after it was formed 4.5 billion years ago.
The powerful collision as Theia crashed into the early Earth sent material
Researchers analyzed the contents of Moon rocks brought back by the Apollo 12, 15 and 17 missions and compared them with the volcanic rocks from the Ear
Edward Young, the lead author of the study, said: "We don 't see any difference between Earth's and Moon's oxygen isotopes; they are indistinguishable
"Theia was thoroughly mixed into both Earth and the Moon, and evenly dispersed between them
" This explains why we do not see a different signature of Theia in the Moon versus Earth . "