The Violent Origin of the Earth and Moon

November 26, 2013

Professor Sarah Stewart is a planetary scientist who specializes in the study of collisions in the solar system. Her research encompasses experimental and numerical investigations of the formation and destruction of planets, planetary geology, and the physical properties of planetary materials. Sarah directs the Shock Compression Laboratory at Harvard which focuses on studying shock processes in planetary materials. Sarah received her A.B. in Astrophysics and Physics from Harvard and her Ph.D. in Planetary Science from the California Institute of Technology. Since 2003, Sarah has been a member of the faculty in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. Sarah’s honors include the Urey Prize from the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences and a U.S. Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.


"The physical properties of our planet are intricately tied to the sequence of giant impact events that led to the formation of the Moon. The canonical giant impact model for lunar origin has been called into question by recent geochemical measurements of lunar rocks. I will present a new model for the origin of the Earth and Moon that reconciles the observations and highlights the importance of stochastic early events in shaping our habitable world."