Space

Earth days getting longer as moon moves away

New research shows that days on Earth are getting longer as the moon slowly spirals away from us.

SPACE (Next Media) – New research shows that days on Earth are getting longer as the moon slowly spirals away from us.

Due to gravitational forces between Earth and its satellite, the moon moves away at a rate of 3.82 centimeters per year, causing our planet’s rotation to slow, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Earth currently completes a full rotation on its axis every 23 hours, 56 minutes, 4 seconds, according to NASA.

But researchers using astrochronology on geological rock layers found that when the moon was closer to Earth 1.4 billion years ago, a day was just over 18 hours.

The length of a day has grown one seventy-five thousandth of a second on average per year, and is expected to continue at this rate for the next millions or billions of years.

The Guardian reports that the moon will eventually stop moving when it reaches a stable distance from Earth. When this happens, the two will be tidally locked- rotating at the same pace, with the moon visible from only one side of Earth.

Of course, that’s assuming either of them survive the Sun’s destructive red giant phase.


Associated Links

  • Guardian
  • Moon
  • Natural satellite
  • Spiral
  • Observational astronomy
  • Lunar phase