A new study finds that the moon is drifting away from Earth and is making days longer
Scientists have discovered that as the Moon moves away from Earth, the length of the day slowly increases.
A group of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has determined that over millions of years, the gravitational pull between Earth and its only natural satellite has diminished.
This communication failure appears to have caused our planet to rotate more slowly, thus allowing the Moon to sway at a snail’s speed.
After studying the moon in relation to the Earth, scientists concluded that the celestial body is moving away at a rate of 3.82 cm per year.
This very small drift is said to mean that in 200 million years, the day on Earth will increase from 24 hours to 25.
Speaking about the findings, study co-author Professor Stephen Myers of the University of Wisconsin-Madison said: “When the Moon moves away, the Earth is like a spinning ice skater that slows down as it extends its arms.”
In addition to making assumptions about how long they think the day will be in the distant future, scientists also come to a conclusion about the length of Earth’s day 1.4 billion years ago.
They believe that at one time, a day on Earth lasted only 18 hours.
According to a report published by the aforementioned university, this is due to the fact that the moon was much closer to the planet and had a greater influence on the way it rotated around its axis.
To unearth this information, the researchers used chrono-astronomy, a method that links astronomical theory with geological observations.
Professor Myers said: “One of our ambitions was to use astronomy to tell time in the distant past, to develop very ancient geological time scales.”
“We want to be able to study rocks that are billions of years old in a similar way to how we study modern geological processes.”
By studying sediments from a 90-million-year-old rock formation, Myers et al. They’ve gained insight into what they think our solar system once looked like.
“About 1.5 billion years ago, the Moon was close enough that gravitational interactions with the Earth would have ripped the Moon apart,” Myers explained.
Professor Alberto Malinferro, co-author of the study, has since said he wants to dig deeper into the investigation.
“In the future, we want to expand the work to different geological time periods,” he said.
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