Earth's Recovery from the Moon-forming Giant Impact
The energy released during giant impacts exceeds our common experience. Our planet was transformed into unfamiliar physical states multiple times during the main stage of accretion. High temperatures drove chemical pathways that are not attainable today. It is now possible to reach the pressures and temperatures of planetary collisions in laboratory experiments to study the thermodynamic properties of planetary materials at the extremes of nature. These data, incorporated into numerical simulations, provide information needed to predict the chemical outcomes of collisions. New results reframe our thinking about the early evolution of the Earth, including the chemistry of core formation and formation of the first atmosphere. High temperature processes point towards new explanations for puzzling chemical signatures from the deep mantle that date back to Earth’s accretion.