Research ArticleSPACE SCIENCE

Early formation of the Moon 4.51 billion years ago

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Science Advances  11 Jan 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 1, e1602365
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602365

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Abstract

Establishing the age of the Moon is critical to understanding solar system evolution and the formation of rocky planets, including Earth. However, despite its importance, the age of the Moon has never been accurately determined. We present uranium-lead dating of Apollo 14 zircon fragments that yield highly precise, concordant ages, demonstrating that they are robust against postcrystallization isotopic disturbances. Hafnium isotopic analyses of the same fragments show extremely low initial 176Hf/177Hf ratios corrected for cosmic ray exposure that are near the solar system initial value. Our data indicate differentiation of the lunar crust by 4.51 billion years, indicating the formation of the Moon within the first ~60 million years after the birth of the solar system.

Keywords
  • Age of the moon
  • Apollo zircons
  • giant impact
  • lunar magma ocean
  • early solar system evolution
  • planetary accretion
  • early earth

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