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How did the moon form? The leading theory is that the Moon resulted from a glancing collision between the young Earth and an object the size of Mars. The above image series is based on several mathematical simulations of the Moon’s origin:

The Moon’s history begins with a collision between a young Earth (larger object) and a Mars-sized planet.

10 minutes: The now-molten mantle layers (gray) of the two planets are mixing together.

1 hour: The iron cores (orange) are melding together – Most of this iron will remain with Earth.

2 hours: Parts of the mantle are spinning off into a swarm of debris.

22 hours: Pieces of debris revolve around Earth, slowly gathering together.

1 week: The growing Moon’s gravity pulls in the remaining debris.

Learn more about Moon rocks and craters.

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