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3 Feb, 2017 15:24

Apocalypse then? Moon on course to collide with Earth in 65bn years

Apocalypse then? Moon on course to collide with Earth in 65bn years

The moon is on course to collide with Earth in a catastrophic pile-up, according to a planetary scientist. That said, doomsday isn’t due to arrive for another 65 billion years. Panic averted.

Currently the moon spirals away from Earth at a rate of 3.8cm (1.4 inches) annually, but scientist Jason Barnes from the University of Idaho told Forbes that the lunar satellite will start to creep closer and inevitably spiral inward for spectacular merger.

“Eventually, it [the moon] would get so close that it would spiral inward, dissipating its orbital kinetic energy in a spectacular collision and merger with the Earth,” Barnes is cited as saying.

It’s understood that the moon was formed some 4.5 billion years ago from the debris of a crash between a planet-sized impactor and an emerging planet Earth – and it has been receding from us ever since.

READ MORE: Stunning space station image captures Earth's natural 'checkerboard'

Humans can anticipate the apocalypse when the Earth’s rotation slows down to the same rate as that of the moon’s orbital period.

However, we may not even get to see such an encounter as, in around 6 billion years, it’s predicted the sun will enter its ‘Red Giant Phase’. This is when the sun runs out of nuclear fuel and the outer layers will expand towards Earth, scorching everything in its path and wiping out all life.