Scientists have put forth a compelling theory suggesting that remnants of an ancient planet, Theia, may lie within the Earth, bringing an intriguing twist to the widely accepted giant-impact hypothesis.
This theory offers a possible explanation for the long-standing mystery surrounding the fate of Theia after it collided with Earth billions of years ago.
Published in the journal Nature, the study presents an enthralling account of molten fragments from Theia, post-collision, potentially melding with Earth’s mantle before solidifying into sizable structures approximately 1,800 miles beneath the Earth’s surface. This discovery has brought fresh attention to the Large Low-Velocity Provinces (LLVPs) residing deep within the Earth.
These massive enigmatic formations, recognized since the 1980s, have mystified geophysicists due to their substantial iron density, distinct from the surrounding mantle. Dr. Qian Yuan, the lead author of the study and a geophysicist at the California Institute of Technology, stumbled upon the idea at a seminar in 2019, where the giant-impact hypothesis was outlined.
Familiar with the LLVPs and armed with new insights about Theia, Yuan embarked on a quest to uncover the potential connection between these formations and the remnants of Theia. However, initial skepticism and rejections marked the journey. After encountering like-minded scientists who provided vital modeling data, Yuan’s theory gained substantial support.
Scientists Intriguing Theory of Theia’s Remnants on Earth
Dr. Steve Desch, a coauthor of the study, emphasized the complex Nature of Earth’s mantle, likening it to high-pressure magma with a consistency similar to peanut butter. This understanding was crucial in demonstrating how the remnants of Theia might have solidified within Earth’s mantle without completely melding with the surrounding materials.
The study’s high-resolution modeling solidified that fragments of Theia could plausibly coexist within Earth’s mantle, lending credence to the theory. Coauthored by experts from various institutions, including Arizona State, Caltech, the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, and NASA’s Ames Research Center, the study has opened up an engaging discourse within the scientific community.
While the study offers a compelling hypothesis, Dr. Yuan remains open to scrutiny and further research to explore the validity of his proposition. Dr. Desch further underlined the persuasiveness of the work, emphasizing its solid empirical support.
However, the recommendation is with its skeptics, as other theories, such as the notion that LLVPs could be sunken oceanic crust over eons, continue to be debated. This vibrant exchange of ideas underscores the dynamic nature of scientific exploration, ensuring that the quest to unravel Earth’s history remains a captivating and ongoing saga.