WASHINGTON — The moon is not made of material that broke from the Earth in one piece but from a ring spun off from Earth when the planet was young and fast, an Indiana University astronomer said in a report to be issued today.
In his new explanation of how the moon was formed, Richard H. Durisen, an astronomy professor at the university, used a computer to simulate the Earth when it was fluid and rotating rapidly. He found that the result was a single body surrounded by a ring of material.
"To the extent of the computations we've done so far, it demonstrates the moon would not have broken off as a single piece," Durisen said.
The National Science Foundation, which supported Durisen's work, said the theory that the moon was a spinoff of Earth was proposed first by George Darwin, son of the English naturalist Charles Darwin, in 1879.