Tech UPTechnologyThe Moon moves away from the Earth

The Moon moves away from the Earth

Why does the Moon leave us? Contrary to what happens in the science fiction movie ‘Moonfall’ (2022), our moon, formed billions of years ago when there was a planetary collision with the Earth of an object named “Tea” (which makes up the hypothesis of the great impact with a protoplanet of the solar system), is moving away from us, making the days longer and the years fewer days because of this constantly changing Earth-Moon dynamic. And there is no way to turn this clock back.

Goodbye Moon, goodbye

The Moon, about four times smaller than the Earth , seems to be a constant in our sky, but the truth is that it has been in a state of continuous change ever since. And it’s because the Earth and the Moon are ‘moving apart’. The newborn Moon was almost 16 times closer to Earth than it is today. As it cooled, the moon receded, up to thousands of miles in the distance. And, every day, the Moon moves away from us a little more.

For more than 50 years scientists have been measuring exactly this distance. The Moon is increasing its orbit and moving away from us at a rate of 4 centimeters per year (specifically 3.78 cm per year).

But why does he walk away?

The forces of gravity are invisible and unbreakable , and no matter what we do or how we feel about them, they will keep pulling on the Moon. For many millions of years, we will continue to drift apart. What happens in this case is that the Moon generates tides in the Earth’s oceans and the tides “consume” a large amount of energy due to friction. Friction is what slows down the Earth’s rotation. Therefore, the moon recedes, and that slows down the rotation of the Earth. All of this dragging back and forth pushes the moon outward and makes its orbit larger. Although very slowly, it does. And there is no turning back.

The Moon’s orbit with respect to Earth is elliptical and not perfectly round, so each night it is closer or farther from us. However, on average, the Moon is about 385,000 km away from us.

 

What will happen? Will we be without the Moon forever?

In about 50 billion years, the Moon will stop moving away from us and settle into a stable orbit . At this point, our satellite will take about 47 days to go around the Earth (currently, it takes a little over 27 days). And, when this new stability is achieved, the Earth and the Moon will be tidally locked to each other. As a result, the Moon will always appear to be in the same place in the sky .

The problem? That the Sun will have other plans in about 5,000 million years , since it will become a red giant when it runs out of fuel and the Earth and everything within its reach, as a result of its expansion, will end up swallowed by the Sun in a last breath.

 

 

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