Washington: Iron vapor in Z-machine reveals clues about the formation of earth and the moon, it has been reported.
Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories' Z machine have helped untangle a long-standing mystery of astrophysics: why iron was found spattered throughout Earth's mantle, the roughly 2,000-mile thick region between Earth's core and its crust.
It was found that asteroids that crashed into Earth and the moon more than 4 billion years ago created vast quantities of vaporized iron. The study suggested that the iron mist thrown up during the high velocity impacts of these asteroids traveled fast enough to escape the moon's gravity. However, the iron mist stayed gravitationally stuck on Earth.
The numerous collisions with other objects helped the planet take shape. As it started shaping up, the speed of those collisions increased from a few miles per hour to up to 100,000 miles per hour due to the protoplanet's ever-increasing mass.
These extremely high-impact speeds generated enormous pressures and temperatures during the last phases of planetary formation. During this phase of planetary formation, materials were subjected to the most extreme conditions.
The research team was able to model effects of impacts between the proto-Earth and other bodies using the data from the Z-Machine. The researchers found that far slower impact speeds are required to vaporize iron than previously hypothesized. This translates to more iron being vaporized during Earth's period of formation.
This led the researches to conclude that during Earth 's formation, greater amounts of iron were vaporized.
The study is published in the journal Nature Geoscience.