Forever in the shadow that you cast,
She hangs like a dead lantern in the sky;
A memory of a love that did not last,
A remnant of a time that has passed by.
Now sifting through the debris of your past
We analyse the data that we scry,
To find how this annulment came to start;
The reason that your worlds were torn apart.
We know that deep within you is a scar,
A wound that reaches to your very core;
A blemish that came to you from afar,
And from a kiss that promised so much more.
On seeing the turbulence of this spar
We knew that your relations were done for;
The impact of the time when you first met
Creates the shadow of her deep regret.
This is an Ottava Rima, inspired by recent research that looks at new evidence to further support the theory that the moon was formed following a collision with a Mars-sized object, hitting the Earth approximately 4.5 billion years ago. It is hypothesised that this collision sent a huge mass of debris into space, which eventually came together (under the gravitational pull of the Earth) to form our moon.
This “giant impact” hypothesis has long been the most favoured explanation for the creation of our moon, but until now researchers have lacked key evidence to fully support this claim. This recent study created a “re-enactment” of the impact using liquids that were representative of what would have occurred when the planetary object first struck the newly formed Earth (at this stage in its development the Earth was far less solid and more malleable than it is in its current form). These experiments recreated the key ratios of forces acting on each other at the time of impact and (for the first time) also accounted for turbulent mixing. This turbulent mixing had to be done in the lab using real fluids in the exact ratios that were believed to have occurred during the time of collision, as turbulence is such a complex process that it is difficult to simulate mathematically.
A thick stratified layer at the top of the Earth’s core, enriched with lighter elements such as oxygen, sulphur and silicon has previously been measured using seismographic data. Whilst other explanations had previously been postulated as to the existence of this layer, the results of this turbulent mixing study demonstrate that it could have been created following a large impact with a Mars-sized body. The presence of this layer would therefore seem to strongly support the giant impact hypothesis of moon formation.
An audio version of the poem can be heard here.