Scientists have long suspected that a planetary body called Theia, which was about the size of Mars, collided with young Earth around 4.5 billion years ago.
This theory, known as the giant impact hypothesis, had previously held that the crash happened at a roughly 45-degree angle, or a sideswipe.
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Earth Day 2014, beautiful photos of Earth
Study suggests Earth is result of head-on collision between two planets
NOAA's GOES-East satellite captured this stunning view of the Americas on Earth Day, April 22, 2014 at 11:45 UTC/7:45 a.m. EDT. The data from GOES-East was made into an image by the NASA/NOAA GOES Project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
The 2002 Blue Marble featured land surfaces, clouds, topography, and city lights at a maximum resolution of 1 kilometer per pixel. (NASA image by Robert Simmon and Reto Stöckli)
The Blue Marble: Next Generation features imagery of land surfaces during each month of 2004, with a maximum resolution of 500 meters per pixel. (NASA Image by Robert Simmon and Reto Stöckli)
Image by Norman Kuring, NASA/GSFC/Suomi NPP. Caption by Michael Carlowicz. Suomi NPP is the result of a partnership between NASA, NOAA and the Department of Defense.
Ocean scientist Norman Kuring of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center pieced together this composite image of Europe, Asia, North Africa, and the entire Arctic. It was compiled from 15 satellite passes made by Suomi-NPP on May 26, 2012. The spacecraft circles the Earth from pole to pole at an altitude of 824 kilometers (512 miles), so it takes multiple passes to gather enough data to show an entire hemisphere without gaps in the view. (Photo: NASA)
On December 24, 1968, Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders were coming around from the far side of the Moon on their fourth orbit. Borman began to roll the spacecraft, and as he did, the Earth rose into view over the Moon’s limb. Anders, photographing the Moon from the right side window, caught sight of the view, and exclaimed: “Oh my God, look at that picture over there! There’s the Earth comin’ up. Wow, is that pretty!”
He snapped a black and white photo (top), capturing humanity’s first view of Earth from another planetary body. A few minutes later, Anders put color film in the camera and took the iconic color photographs of a half Earth hanging over the lunar horizon.
Looking back from its orbit around Mercury, MESSENGER captured this view of Earth and the Moon on May 6, 2010. The spacecraft was 183 million kilometers (114 million miles) from Earth at the time, farther than our average distance from the Sun (150 million kilometers, or 93 million miles) because Mercury and Earth were at different places in their orbits around the Sun. The image was taken by the spacecraft's Wide Angle Camera (WAC) on the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS).
Image taken on April 1, 1960 by TIROS 1. This was the first television picture of Earth from space. Credit: NASA
The Blue Marble is a famous photograph of the Earth, taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft, at a distance of about 45,000 kilometers (28,000 mi).
A view of the eastern hemisphere of earth from space is shown in this undated NASA handout photo obtained by Reuters February 6, 2012. NASA's second 'Blue Marble' image was created from data acquired by a new instrument aboard the Earth-observing satellite Suomi NPP, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). REUTERS/NASA/Handout. (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
This spectacular ?blue marble? image is the most detailed true-color image of the entire Earth to date, using a collection of satellite-based observations, scientists and visualizers stitched together months of observations of the land surface, oceans, sea ice, and clouds into a seamless, true-color mosaic of every square kilometer of Earth. Much of the information contained in this image came from a single remote-sensing device-NASA?s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS. Flying over 700 km above the Earth onboard the Terra satellite in 2002. REUTERS/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Handout (UNITED STATES). EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
This spectacular 'blue marble' image is the most detailed true-color image of the entire Earth to date, using a collection of satellite-based observations, scientists and visualizers stitched together months of observations of the land surface, oceans, sea ice, and clouds into a seamless, true-color mosaic of every square kilometer of Earth. Much of the information contained in this image came from a single remote-sensing device - NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS. REUTERS/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Handout (UNITED STATES) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY
SPACE - UNDATED: Fifteen orbits of the recently launched Suomi NPP satellite provided the VIIRS instrument enough time (and longitude) to gather the pixels for this synthesized view of Earth showing the Arctic, Europe, and Asia. Suomi NPP orbits the Earth about 14 times each day and observes nearly the entire surface. The NPP satellite continues key data records that are critical for climate change science. PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA / Barcroft Media /Barcoft Media via Getty Images
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Now, researchers believe that the impact with Theia was head-on.
And what resulted was the simultaneous fusion of that entity with Earth and the creation of the moon from that same material.
The team arrived at this conclusion by analyzing volcanic rocks from our planet and specimens from the moon.
Both sets shared the same chemical signatures in terms of oxygen isotopes, which compose the bulk of the objects' weight and volume.
As such, Richard Young, the head researcher, has confirmed that, "Theia was thoroughly mixed into both the Earth and the moon, and evenly dispersed between them."
Had the collision not occurred, it is believed that Theia would have grown into a planet.