The "Man In The Moon" illusion is caused by moon swirls, new study finds – NASA

The full moon rises above the Kaiser mountains, Tyrol, Austria

Getty ImagesReinhard Holzl

When you look up at a clear full moon on a clear night, you may wonder what a human face on the surface of the moon looks like.

This illusion is often called the & # 39; man in the moon & # 39; and is defined by the light and dark parts of the lunar façade. In some ancient myths, the face is that of a man who was exiled to the moon for committing a crime.

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But what is the science behind the moon that apparently shows the appearance of a human face?

According to a new study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Researchit is almost 40 miles long moon swirls created by magnetic lava flows under the surface of the moon. These swirls ensure that patterns and shapes materialize on the rocky satellite.

"Lunar swirls are collections of finely structured, light and dark markings on the surface, interspersed with length scales of usually 1-5 km," the study states. "Swirls are thought to form where local magnetic fields protect parts of the lunar surface from exposure to the solar wind or where those magnetic fields result in the sorting of some of the finest lunar soils."

These swirls are not a new discovery, since NASA has known them for decades and registered the Reiner Gamma whirl with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. But this is the first time that conclusions have been drawn about the causes.

The recent research, carried out by scientists from Rutgers University and the University of California, Berkeley, mapped the moon swirls using computer models.

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Narrow magnetic zones are where these eddies were found and are linked to old underground tunnels called lava tubes. These extremely magnetic areas are associated with the strong volcanic activity of the moon's past and bend particles within the solar winds, leaving certain parts of the moon dark.

"These magnetized rocks were probably injected into the crust in the form of dikes or underground channels of flowing lava and they cooled down slowly, which led to an increase in their metal content and enabled the stones to make a stable record of the old global magnetic field of the moon., "The study authors wrote.

The lunar swirls that create contrasting light and dark parts of the moon can now explain why we interpret a human face in the moon.

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