Several Harvard researchers believe they have found enough proof to support the concept that there is an ancient Earth existing inside out planet. And by ancient, we mean back in the time when our planet was formed, meaning billions of years ago!
The team of researchers thinks that a previously unexplored isotopic ratio found deep within Earth might be remnants from an ancient planet prior to colliding with an enormous cosmic body that eventually resulted in the creation of the Moon.
These scientists believe that this could be the leftover materials of an ancient Earth which existed 4.5 billion years ago, before the aforementioned collision.
The creation of the Moon and the origin of this ‘natural’ satellite are among some of the greatest and most fascinating scientific mysteries. While mankind is still uncertain as to how the Moon was formed, several scientific theories have tried to explain the formation of this celestial body.
Among these theories, the most widely accepted one theorizes that Earth’s Moon was formed nearly 4.5 billion years ago when the Earth clashed with a celestial body. This celestial body was called ‘Theia’ and was with the size of Mars.
According to the theory, this cosmic collision generated enough heat that melted the planet causing debris to fly off, eventually creating the Moon.
However, according to a team of Harvard researchers led by Professor Sujoy Mukhopadhyay, a geochemist at Harvard University, there is enough proof to hypothesize that only a part of the Earth melted and that an ancient part still remains within the planet’s mantle. This would mean that parts of that ancient planet still exist below everyone’s feet, uncovered for billions of years.
“The energy released by the impact between the Earth and Theia would have been huge, certainly enough to melt the whole planet. However, we believe that the impact energy was not evenly distributed throughout the ancient Earth. This means that a significant part of the impacted hemisphere would probably have been completely vaporized, but the opposite hemisphere would have been partly shielded, and would not have undergone complete melting.” –Professor Mukhopadhyay.
In order to come to this conclusion, the Harvard team of scientists made an analysis of the ratios of noble gas isotopes found deep within Earth’s mantle. Then they compared these results to isotope ratios that are much closer to Earth’s surface. Their research showed that 3He to 22Ne ratio from the shallow mantle was much higher than the equivalent portion present deep within Earth’s mantle. This finding led the researchers to believe they came across two entirely different materials: Those originating from an ancient Earth and those belonging to the Earth we know today.
“This implies that the last giant impact did not completely mix the mantle, and there was not a whole mantle magma ocean,” said Professor Mukhopadhyay.
By analyzing the 129-Xenon to 120-Xenon ratio scientists came up with additional indications that support their theory. Samples which were brought to the surface from deep within Earth’s mantle demonstrated a much lower ratio than the average found close to the surface. Since 129-xenon is the result of radioactive decay of 129-lodine, the isotopes showed that this ancient part of the planet’s mantle was formed during the first 100 million years of Earth’s existence.
“The geochemistry indicates that there are differences between the noble gas isotope ratios in different parts of the Earth, and these need to be explained. The idea that a very disruptive collision of the Earth with another planet-sized body, the biggest event in Earth’s geological history, did not completely melt and homogenize the Earth challenges some of our notions on planet formation and the energetics of giant impacts. If the theory is proven correct, then we may be seeing echoes of the ancient Earth, from a time before the collision,” said Professor Mukhopadhyay.
“This exciting result is adding to the observational evidence that important aspects of Earth’s composition were established during the violent birth of the planet and is providing a new look at the physical processes by which this can occur,” said Professor Richard Carlson of the Carnegie Institution Department of Terrestrial Magnetism.
This is truly an exciting discovery. It’s fascinating what science brings us with each passing day. There are so many things about our planet that we do not know. However, with this recent finding, we are one step closer to revealing its secrets.
Make sure you share this article with all diehard science lovers. They would be glad to hear the news!