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  1. Abstract One of the unique aspects of Earth is that it has a fractionally large Moon, which is thought to have formed from a Moon-forming disk generated by a giant impact. The Moon stabilizes the Earth’s spin axis at least by several degrees and contributes to Earth’s stable climate. Given that impacts are common during planet formation, exomoons, which are moons around planets in extrasolar systems, should be common as well, but no exomoon has been confirmed. Here we propose that an initially vapor-rich moon-forming disk is not capable of forming a moon that is large with respect to the size of the planet because growing moonlets, which are building blocks of a moon, experience strong gas drag and quickly fall toward the planet. Our impact simulations show that terrestrial and icy planets that are larger than ~1.3−1.6 R ⊕ produce entirely vapor disks, which fail to form a fractionally large moon. This indicates that (1) our model supports the Moon-formation models that produce vapor-poor disks and (2) rocky and icy exoplanets whose radii are smaller than ~1.6 R ⊕ are ideal candidates for hosting fractionally large exomoons.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  2. Determining the presence or absence of a past long-lived lunar magnetic field is crucial for understanding how the Moon’s interior and surface evolved. Here, we show that Apollo impact glass associated with a young 2 million–year–old crater records a strong Earth-like magnetization, providing evidence that impacts can impart intense signals to samples recovered from the Moon and other planetary bodies. Moreover, we show that silicate crystals bearing magnetic inclusions from Apollo samples formed at ∼3.9, 3.6, 3.3, and 3.2 billion years ago are capable of recording strong core dynamo–like fields but do not. Together, these data indicate that the Moon did not have a long-lived core dynamo. As a result, the Moon was not sheltered by a sustained paleomagnetosphere, and the lunar regolith should hold buried 3 He, water, and other volatile resources acquired from solar winds and Earth’s magnetosphere over some 4 billion years.